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KEITH OLBERMANN: It was in the reign of Emperor Charlemagne, light years ago, that people would gather every December 31st to welcome the change of seasons. Little did the Emperor know the startling repercussions that his actions would have decades later. Good evening, this is Keith Olbermann reporting from Times Square, and our top story tonight--our only story--is the changing of the guard, if you will, the movement from one calendar year to the next, one might say, as has been declaimed by the ancient Chinese philosopher Charles Chan, "Patience leads to knowledge," the proverbial phrase that suffuses with its undercurrent the happenings taking place here tonight, in the square that takes its name from the beleaguered newspaper that is so often the target of baseless attacks from mindless simpletons, so to speak. Once again, we welcome Howard Fineman. Howard, would it be fair to say that, all things considered, the year 2005 has been one of miscalculation, misery, and mendacity for the current occupant of the White House, or would it be more accurate to describe it as a time of deceit, desperation, and dissembling?
HOWARD FINEMAN: Keith, I think you have it exactly right.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman, great thanks as always. It should be noted that this night, like all nights, is not without controversy. There continue to be reports that the seconds have not been properly counted, particularly in the Central Time zone. And just today it was revealed on the nonpartisan internet news source, The Daily Kos, that the investigation has reached its tentacles all the way into the White House. Joining us now, Lawrence O'Donnell, who has been on top of this story from the start. Lawrence, when what was thought to be a small burglary mushroomed into the scandal we so fondly remember as Watergate, there was no idea that the President would be involved. Yet the parallels to our present crisis are striking, are they not? A President? A Republican? In the White House? And, this is remarkable, both with Republican Vice-Presidents.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: You're absolutely right, Keith. There is no question that laws were broken here, and you will see the prosecutor issue multiple indictments--anywhere from three to five--before the year is over.
OLBERMANN: Thank you Lawrence. It appears we will have big news before that ball drops. And the dropping of the ball: it should be noted the irony, the great cosmic synergy that this event encapsulates. Our friend Craig Crawford is here. Craig, is it mere coincidence, or is there really a metaphysical significance, a meaning from the universe as it were, to the dropping of that ball tonight? Is there any way to avoid the inescapable conclusion that this descending orb, this falling sphere, really serves as a metaphor for George Bush, for his credibility, his approval ratings, and his overall intelligence?
CRAIG CRAWFORD: Well Keith [chuckle], you have put your finger on it [giggle]. That ball really is George Bush [chortle] and when it hits bottom it's not going back up again [snicker].
OLBERMANN: Craig Crawford, great thanks as always for your insights. Despite the death and destruction that the administration has brought to the world, there is still, inexplicably, an odd air of cheerfulness in this corner of the world. To make sense out of it all, our cultural correspondent, Michael Musto, who is in Key West. Michael, a good evening to you. Is that champagne you're drinking?
MICHAEL MUSTO: Yeth it is, Keith.
OLBERMANN: There is no alcohol allowed here for the celebration tonight, so we are still drinking Kool-Aid. Yet despite the very real questions about individual rights, personal freedoms, and privacy that these restrictions invariably raise, the people here seem to be able to forget their misery and subjugation long enough to snatch a brief moment of happiness from their dour, underpaid lives.
MUSTO: It has to be residual merriment left over from last week, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Thanks again, Michael. The mention of the yuletide season brings us to this year's Worst Person in the World. Our winner is--who else?--Bill O'Reilly, for his made-up nonsense about a war against December 25th. You're going to hell, Bill, and even the holiday infant can't save you. But now, as you can see, the big moment is fast approaching. That ball has started its way down to mark the beginning of 2006, so we will take you to a taped replay of the best oddball videos of the past decade. This is Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.