On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann admitted to feeling a "deep personal affection" for Bill and Hillary Clinton during a segment with The Washington Post's Dana Milbank as the two discussed the Clinton campaign's return to negative campaigning against Barack Obama. Expressing discomfort at having to observe that the Clintons "sound angry," Olbermann declared his feelings for the Clintons in his second question to Milbank: "I am loath to use this next phrase, to even put it in words. I mean, I have deep personal affection for both of the Clintons. I don't think that's some awful revelation, and I don't think that's awful. ... They sound angry. Are they angry? Are they angry at Obama, at the media, at the voters?" (Transcripts follow)
By contrast, not only did Olbermann call President Bush a "fascist" who was engaging in "a form of terrorism against his own people" to gain political support on Thursday's show, but on the Monday February 18 show, Olbermann named Bush "Worst Person in the World" in response to quotes, run in the conservative Washington Times, by analysts from the Brookings Institution and the Cato Institute who questioned Bush's claims of urgency in extending the Protect America Act.
As Olbermann named Bush "Worst Person," he labeled Cato both as a "conservative" think tank, although Cato would best be described as "libertarian" rather than strictly "conservative." And Brookings has been viewed by some as liberal. Olbermann also edited the article's opening sentence to make it appear the writer, Sean Lengell, was voicing agreement with the contention that the law's expiration would "have little effect on national security despite warnings to the contrary by the White House and Capitol Hill Republican leaders," although the full sentence shows Lengell was describing the views of his sources rather than his own views.
Lengell's first line was:
Many intelligence scholars and analysts outside the government say that today's expiration of certain temporary domestic wiretapping laws will have little effect on national security, despite warnings to the contrary by the White House and Capitol Hill Republican leaders.
Olbermann edited the line as he began his attack on President Bush:
Just how much Mr. Bush has been lying about the expiration of the so-called Protect America Act was not really clear until a newspaper article was printed on Saturday morning. It began with this from the writer: "...today's expiration of certain temporary domestic wiretapping laws will have little effect on national security, despite warnings to the contrary by the White House and Capitol Hill Republican leaders."
Although the article did seem to lean more toward favoring those who disputed the Bush administration, Lengell did include some of the arguments used by Republicans favoring the law's extension.
Also of note, on the Friday February 15 show, about 20 minutes after proclaiming his affection for the Clintons, during a regular segment called "Bushed!" in which the MSNBC host attacks President Bush for, in the words of Olbermann, "the administration's 50 other scandals," he jokingly compared Bush's record on civil rights to that of Genghis Khan.
Below is a transcript of the relevant portions of MSNBC's Countdown show from Friday February 15 and Monday February 18:
#Olbermann's first two questions to Milbank from the Friday February 15 Countdown:
All right, let's start in Tyler, Texas, this afternoon, and that quote from Bill Clinton, slightly more contextualized in a fuller version: "People who want something fresh and new and they find it inspiring that we might elect a President who literally was not part of any of the good things that happened or any of the bad things that were stopped before," and he's referencing the 1990s. I thought that the former President had essentially declared he wished he had campaigned a little differently last month. This would not be differently. This would be the same.
I am loath to use this next phrase, to even put it in words. I mean, I have deep personal affection for both of the Clintons. I don't think that's some awful revelation, and I don't think that's awful. But between the debate ads in Wisconsin, and these quotes about the states in which Obama has not, you know, won, not really being important states. And this again today from the former President, I can't see any way around this. They sound angry. Are they angry? Are they angry at Obama, at the media, at the voters?
# Olbermann from the show's regular "Bushed!" segment from the Friday February 15 Countdown:
But first: The headlines breaking in the administration's 50 other scandals: "Bushed!"
Number three: "Detainee-Gate." Another reasonable demand causing the administration to threaten to hold its breath until it turns blue. The U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. wants the President to justify why more than 180 detainees at Gitmo are classified as enemy combatants. The administration has now gone to the Supreme Court to argue that just answering that question would create a serious threat to national security.
Number two: "Bush in the Bush-Gate." That trip to Africa he threatened to cancel and about which the President has made such a big deal. Monday, the White House cut at least $193 million in U.S. funding to U.N. peacekeeping forces in Africa. "We've got a firm heartfelt commitment to the continent of Africa," Mr. Bush told the BBC. Yeah, no money, but a heartfelt commitment.
And number one: "1984-Gate." Attorney General John Ashcroft now says in a speech to Missouri Republicans that President Bush is among the most respectful of all leaders ever in terms of respecting the civil rights of individuals. Well, if you do the math here, there had been millions of, quote, "leaders", quote, "ever". So, if Mr. Bush ranks, say, number 94,227, that would make him, you know, top 10 percent, right ahead of Genghis Khan.
#Relevant portion of Olbermann's "Worst Person" segment from the Monday February 18 Countdown:
Our winner, speaking of whom, the President of the United States. Just how much Mr. Bush has been lying about the expiration of the so-called Protect America Act was not really clear until a newspaper article was printed on Saturday morning. It began with this from the writer: "...today's expiration of certain temporary domestic wiretapping laws will have little effect on national security, despite warnings to the contrary by the White House and Capitol Hill Republican leaders."
Then, there was this quote from a think tank: "There's no reason to think our nation will be in any more danger in 2008 than it was in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, or 2006."
And then, another quote from another think tankster who, quote, "also said he was 'somewhat bewildered by the apocalyptic rhetoric' of the White House."
The last quote was from Ben Wittes of the Brookings Institution. The previous think tanker was Timothy Lee at the conservative Cato Institute. And the article itself barely restraining the mystification at the President's calumny, cynicism about his fear tactics, even its anger at the naked manipulation of the public. The article was entitled, "Analysts Say FISA Will Suffice." It was not printed in The Washington Post. It was not printed in The Nation. It was printed in as conservative a newspaper as exists in this country: The Washington Times. Where even they understand what we mean when we say, George W. Bush, today's "Worst Person in the World."