OK, I confess. I thought I was made of sterner stuff, but I'm starting to officially miss "Countdown With Keith Olbermann." Rachel Maddow is just fine. Lawrence O'Donnell has potential. And Chris Matthews, well, has he ever gone 20 seconds without interrupting a guest?
Since Olbermann signed off Friday night, I've been having withdrawal pangs, missing his hilarious "Oddball" segments, longing for his eloquent rants, pining for his wryly comic Friday readings of James Thurber. Even if I didn't always agree with his politics, I thought Olbermann was an amazingly compelling on-air presence. Often unpredictable, almost always crackling with a kind of neurotic electricity, he was the closest thing on TV to a real-life Aaron Sorkin character, with a love of language, a barbed sense of humor and a passionate, occasionally self-destructive commitment to causes and personal ideals that sometimes only he seemed to understand.
Even though he's gone from MSNBC, thanks to Twitter we can still get a condensed version of what's on Olbermann's mind. He was in rare form during Rep. Michele Bachmann's "tea party" truly "oddball" response to the president's State of the Union address Tuesday night, offering zinger after zinger about the fact that Bachmann inexplicably seemed to be staring off camera during her entire speech. In other words, even though Olbermann wasn't on TV, he was focused on the TV-ness of it all, as if he were dreaming up a "Larry Sanders Show" sketch as he was watching.
Here's a few of his best bits:
"MICHELE! Hey! Yoo-hoo! CONGRESSWOMAN! We're the ones in the MIDDLE."
"Did the Tea Party not spring either for a Camera Red Light or a combined camera-teleprompter? It costs $3 extry."
"Seriously, somebody at the Tea Party needs to run on the stage, grab her, and POINT TO WHERE THE CAMERA IS."
"I haven't seen anything like that since Alan Keyes' old TV show where he would look left and right, even though there was no audience."
"Tonight's Final Score: Obama 22 Ryan 1 Bachmann -11,746."
Think Olbermann should have scored the speech differently? See it for yourself below.
-- Patrick Goldstein
Photo: Keith Olbermann speaking to the Television Critics Association press tour at the Beverly Hilton in 2008.
Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images