Olbermann Makes Fred Thompson 'Worst Person' for '72 Virgins' Joke

Add Keith Olbermann to the list of MSNBC hosts offended by popular applause lines from Thursday's GOP debate on FNC. On Friday's Countdown, the same day that Hardball's Chris Matthews had earlier compared Mike Huckabee's words regarding the U.S. military defending itself from Iran to "talking like jihadists," Olbermann named Fred Thompson "Worst Person in the World," contending that the GOP presidential candidate had "pulled another whopper" because the former Senator joked that Iranian military members on speed boats who harassed U.S. Navy warships came close to meeting "those virgins that they're looking forward to seeing." Olbermann further mocked Thompson by suggesting that his candidacy was just part of a "Candid Camera" stunt. (Transcript follows)

Because the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is believed to have given assistance to terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Iraqi insurgents, is technically not the same group associated with the "72 virgins" promise to suicide bombers, Olbermann used this as a rationale to impugn Thompson's intelligence. Referring to the U.S. Navy's interraction with the Iranian boats as a "supposed confrontation," Olbermann brought up a time when the former Senator mis-spoke in calling Russia the "Soviet Union." Olbermann: "Asked about the supposed confrontation between Iranian speed boats and three U.S. warships in the Gulf of Hormuz, Thompson, who last year said we couldn't count on the 'Soviet Union' to help us with Iran in the future, pulled another whopper."

After imitating Thompson's voice to read the former Senator's quote about the "72 virgins," Olbermann, ignoring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's links to terrorism, continued: "As the crowd cheered and Thompson gave that look he used in The Hunt for Red October when he wanted to seem tough, somebody at the debate probably realized that it's terrorists and suicide bombers who have believed the crap about the 72 virgins, not the guys in the Iranian navy. Too bad the somebody wasn't Fred Thompson."

The Countdown host then quipped that Thompson would some day reveal that his run for the presidency has been part of a "Candid Camera" stunt: "With every week that goes by, the odds seem to grow that one night he's going to stop in the middle of a speech or a debate and suddenly shout at his supporters [imitating Thompson's voice]: 'Ha ha, I'm not really running. Smile, you're on candid camera.' Senator Fred 'Paying Attention is Overrated' Thompson, today's 'Worst Person in the World'!"

But during Thursday's post-debate coverage on FNC, pollster Frank Luntz informed viewers that his focus group of 28 "Republican-leaning voters" had a "very positive response" to Thompson "72 virgins" joke as the comment scored near 100 percent in terms of approval from group members.

Below is a complete transcript of Olbermann's comments from the Friday January 11 Countdown show on MSNBC, followed by relevant comments by Luntz from Thursday's post-debate coverage on FNC:

From the Friday January 11 Countdown:

KEITH OLBERMANN: But our winner, Senator Fred Thompson. Asked about the supposed confrontation between Iranian speed boats and three U.S. warships in the Gulf of Hormuz, Thompson, who last year said we couldn't count on the "Soviet Union" to help us with Iran in the future, pulled another whopper. Quote [imitating Thompson's voice]: "I think one more step, and they would have been introduced to those virgins that they're looking forward to seeing." As the crowd cheered and Thompson gave that look he used in The Hunt for Red October when he wanted to seem tough, somebody at the debate probably realized that it's terrorists and suicide bombers who have believed the crap about the 72 virgins, not the guys in the Iranian navy. Too bad the somebody wasn't Fred Thompson. With every week that goes by, the odds seem to grow that one night he's going to stop in the middle of a speech or a debate and suddenly shout at his supporters [imitating Thompson's voice]: "Ha ha, I'm not really running. Smile, you're on Candid Camera." Senator Fred 'Paying Attention is Overrated' Thompson, today's "Worst Person in the World"!

From the Thursday January 10 post-debate coverage on FNC:

FRANK LUNTZ: We sat down with 28 Republican-leaning voters, and we asked them to react on a second-by-second basis to the entire debate. There were two clips in particular that scored incredibly well, and I want to show our viewers them.

After discussing the reaction to Huckabee's comment about making those who attack the U.S. military know they could see the "gates of hell," Luntz moved to Thompson.

LUNTZ: But Mike Huckabee wasn't the only one who delivered a very positive response. Fred Thompson also had his humorous line when talking about Iran and Iraq. Let's take a look at how effective Fred Thompson was in the language of foreign policy.

FRED THOMPSON: I think I agree with the governor on that. You can't take the judgement like that out of the hands of the officers on the ground there. I think one more step, you know, and they would have been introduced to those virgins that they're looking forward to seeing.

[applause]