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It's Monday night, and right off the bat, Keith Olbermann played to the extremist crowd that he's counting on to lift Countdown's ratings from the basement:
If the Republican chairman of the Senate committee investigating the wiretaps says the wiretaps were illegal, and the President says he personally authorized the wiretaps, doesn't that mean the President should be impeached?
Olby then used a 30-year-old quote from Frank Church to introduce a report on today's NSA hearing. Yes, the same Frank Church who championed the emasculation of the CIA and its human intelligence that led to 9/11. Keith noted that the Attorney General did not take the oath:
Mr Specter, though, telling Secretary Gonzales, excuse me, Attorney General Gonzales, that it was not necessary, ultimately skipping the step.
What's missing here? Specter's explanation: the penalties for a false official statement are equivalent to those of perjury, and practice over the years has not generally been to require that sitting attorneys general be sworn. Richard Wolffe showed up and discussed this issue, but of course just said that, well, it's discretionary with the committee chairman, not giving Specter's reasons. Wolffe was carbon paper for Olby.
Then, to explain the "legal merits" of Gonzales's arguments, Keith turned to...whom? John Dean! Hmm. What will he say? That's the least mysterious question since "What time does the 6 o'clock news begin?" Eager to again link George Bush to Nixon, Olby came up with this gem:
Was not most of Richard Nixon's presidency predicated on the idea that the nation was in imminent peril from threats foreign and especially domestic?
Then, it's another run-on KO exhortation to Democrats to become even more radical:
If Congress believes, turning to this current situation, that it did not authorize the President to do these kind of freelance wiretaps, and Senator Specter's remarks suggest it's not entirely a partisan issue, that there's doubt in many quarters on the administration's side of things, why not have, or why is Congress not moving toward passing some sort of action that says, by the way, we did not authorize the President to do this, please read and sign?
In another of the world's least mysterious questions, Keith asked the convicted felon if Bush had committed an impeachable offense. You can guess Dean's response. Then KO, based on a comment by Senator Kennedy, wondered about the legalities of court cases. Only our Olby would asked a disbarred lawyer for legal advice.
The #4 story (Muslim riots) was covered with a regurgitated NBC report. Then Oddball, followed by the Al-Qaeda prison break. "Analyst" Juliette Kayyem, who had questioned the Iraq elections and their resultant legitimacy, was the interviewee. Next another recycled report from the mothership on the Musawi trial, and finally a piece on, what else, the Super Bowl.
So tonight we learned how the Attorney General can testify for an entire day, and almost no actual news from his testimony makes it to The Hour of Spin. Oh, early on KO ran a brief clip of Gonzales talking about George Washington and FDR, and another about the cumbersome nature of the FISA process. But what about the Attorney General's carefully reasoned legal arguments, referencing Supreme Court cases like US v Hamdi? What of his explanation about how the program does not engage in "data mining" and has been extremely limited? The latter contradicts an earlier OlbyReport about the "millions of Americans" involved, so maybe that's why The Liar didn't bother to let it--or any of Gonzales's points--be heard. We know how Olby dislikes corrections.
The moral of the story? Countdown is no more a "news hour" than 60 minutes of Savage Nation.