Thursday, May 17, 2007

Soldiers Still Missing, Bill Clinton Interview, NSA Program, 2008 Talk, Raw Politics, No Go For Harry, And No More Bees?! (Wednesday's First Hour)

Hi everybody. We begin the hour with the search for those three soldiers that are unfortunately still missing. In an Arwa Damon piece we learn that soldiers are searching for clues in every nook and cranny in the Triangle of Death, which doesn't exactly sound like a fun place to hang out. They even drained a canal because they're determined to find these guys. It's hella hot and they're exhausted, but they're not giving up. An award of $200,000 has been offered for info that helps find the soldiers, but as of now it's not looking very good. From Arwa's piece we go straight into a portion of an interview Anderson did with Bill Clinton. Getting right to it, Anderson asks if Iraq is lost. Clinton says we can't stop the Iraqis from fighting each other and the war has undermined our military. However, he also points out the political steps the country has taken and notes that there have probably been fewer Iraqi deaths and refugees since the US is there. Um, what? Well, yeah, now maybe. But I'm thinking there would be a lot less of all that if we had never invaded in the first place, especially since some of the killing and infrastructure destroying was done by our own weapons. Anderson then switches it up and brings up how Clinton is known as a master fundraiser. Clinton talks some about Hillary and how they both get so nervous and each other's debates. That's sort of cute, I guess.

Next up we have a Joe John's "Keeping Them Honest" piece where we learn that though former Attorney General John Ashcroft was very much against a naked breast on a statue, he actually was a little pro-civil liberties. Didn't see that coming from him, did you? So anyway, remember that whole NSA wiretapping thing (Hi nice government people!)? Apparently there was a whole mess of drama regarding an attempt to ram it through onto the nice American people. It seems as though Ashcroft thought the program could be illegal, so he wouldn't sign off. Then in 2004 he landed in the hospital for gallbladder surgery, putting James Comey, his number two guy, in charge. Bush council at the time, Alberto Gonzales, and chief of staff Andy Card knew Comey felt the same way as Ashcroft, so what do they do? They try their luck at getting a hopped-up-on-painkillers Ashcroft to sign. Classy.

And this is where the drama comes in, which BTW, 360 demonstrates with a blaring siren that goes on way too long. You see, the program was set to expire the next day and they needed that damn signature. Suddenly Comey gets a call from Ashcroft's chief of staff that Ashcroft's wife has called to say Gonzales and Card are coming to the hospital. Where was Comey when he gets the call? Constitution Avenue. Oh, the irony. So Comey knows something's not right and suddenly it's a race to the hospital with literal emergency equipment in operation and frantic running up stairs. The thing is, all hopped-up though he was, Ashcroft still knew what they were doing and said no. Who would have thought Ashcroft would turn out a hero? Oh, but it's not over. We all know how Bush isn't fond of those pesky law things, so he just rammed it through without Justice's approval. Comey prepared his letter of resignation the next day. But it's still not over! Before he could actually resign it was decided he could have the changes he wanted to make the program legal. So yay! Um, except I think most people say it's still not legal. But anyway, that children, is how a bill becomes a law. Or,,...something...

To talk about all this we're joined by Jeffrey Toobin and Anderson asks if he's surprised. Toobin is stunned. Oh c'mon! Though I didn't mention it during the last piece, um, we already knew most of this. For Toobin or even Anderson to say they're stunned is just mind boggling and makes me feel a little bit like I'm going crazy. But I'm not. Because I know I read about this in early 2006. Sure, we're getting new insights into the drama aspect due to Comey's recent testimony, but the fact that they tried to get drugged up Ashcroft to sign off has been known for over a year. Maybe they're just acting shocked for the sake of tv, but that's a little too "Broadcast News" for me. And why was that Joe Johns piece labeled a "Keeping Them Honest"? He went to the hearing and then told us what Comey said. How is that holding people accountable? To really do that maybe CNN could have looked into this over a year ago when the story was first coming out, rather than waiting for a nice hearing to go to where all the information is given.

Yes, I'm being harsh. I don't know, maybe too harsh. It happens. But the thing is, this stuff matters. Really, really, matters. And to hear CNN's senior legal analyst act like this is the first he's heard about this is just...there are no words. Anderson and Toobin then talk a bit about the NSA program and then transition to the mess Gonzales is in right now. Anderson discusses the situation as though 360 hasn't completely dropped the story. The funny thing is they were all over it in the beginning. Well, for a few days anyway. But, you know, things have constantly been happening since then and 360's been giving it the Plame-gate treatment-in other words only covering it when convenient. And this is why I watch Countdown too. But hey, Keith is never going to tell me about Africa, so there's that.

Moving on now to some discussion about the recent republican debate and we're joined by Ed Rollins from the right and Arianna Huffington from the left. Anderson begins by showing a clip of Giuliani responding to a comment from Ron Paul about how the reason for terrorism is more complicated than just "they hate our freedom." Giuliani of course misinterpreted the comment (as noted by Arianna) and used it to bask in 9-11. Then they talk about Iraq and Ed points out that no candidate wants to still be in Iraq in 2008, but there are no good alternatives. "I think the Democrats' policy of, you know, let's drop our guns and get out of there, vs. the Republicans' stay the course, there has got to be a middle ground somewhere. And no one has come forth with it," he says. Arianna corrects him that no one is saying drop their guns and go, but Ed disagrees. Anderson then notes the "two different perspectives." Um, no, actually one is right and one is wrong and this can be determined by analyzing all the plans. Gee, wouldn't it be cool if there was some objective person or organization that did that for us?

Moving on to "Raw Politics," but I'm going to save some time and give it a pass tonight. After that we've got Erica with the headlines and then she does the segment "What Were They Thinking?" It cracks me up how they act like they've been doing this all along. No stoned dudes tonight. Instead we've got a daycare lady that hid three babies in a storage room during a random state inspection because she was caring for too many kids. Then when they discovered the babies she played dumb like she didn't know they were in there. What the hell? Yeah, her license has been revoked. Lord. In our next piece Richard Quest is back! Yay! Except this is toned down Richard Quest because his piece is about the war. We learn that hell no, Harry won't go! Well, actually they won't let Harry go. It has been deemed that the risk to the royal is unacceptable. Harry is of course disappointed, but I say it's for the best. It's noble he wants to go, but he's not the only one that would be in more danger.

Transitioning now to a Randi Kaye piece about, oh noes, disappearing bees! I'm actually interested in this because a bunch of non news junkies I know have been talking about it. Everyone wants to know what's up with the bees. Even Congress, who are apparently holding hearings. To cut to the chase, billions of honeybees have just vanished. In fact 1/2 to 1/3 of the US population of bees disappeared last winter. So this just means less chance of being stung, right? Wrong! "The USDA estimates bees contribute $15 billion to U.S. agriculture each year. We get an astonishing 30 percent of our food from plants pollinated by honeybees. Crops like almonds, apples, blueberries and broccoli wouldn't grow without them." So bees are mucho important! And this is why they're going all CSI on this mystery. That's right, a bee autopsy. There are many theories for the bee disappeances; some wacky (the Russians, the rapture, terrorism..) and some probable (insecticide, pathogens...). Researchers have found that in some bees several diseases have been found, which points to immune system failure. Think of it as bee AIDS. Yeah, not good. Unfortunately, the mystery remains. I would like to note though that seeing Randi Kaye in a bee suit was mildly hilarious. Oh, and they're putting Raw Data-like facts on screen now during the piece. Interesting.

Next up, 360 makes sure you know you are stupid. Don't lie, you think you have mass knowledge just because you're familiar with people like Mullah Dadullah and can almost explain the whole Plame case if need be. But guess what? You don't know anything and 12 year old Matthew Evans is here to demonstrate that fact. Matthew is the new Reader's Digest National Word Power Challenge Winner and earlier in the show he quizzed Anderson, who probably should stick to Jeopardy. Yeah, he didn't do so hot. Anyway, Anderson asks Matthew some questions, most of which I don't even have an educated guess for. Matthew aces them all and then talks to Anderson about how he studied old Reader's Digests to prepare. We also learn that he's home schooled and his favorite books are "Watership Down" and the "Left Behind" kids books. Well, I hope the kids books are written better than the ones for adults. That's right I've read one of them. Wouldn't have guess that would you? Methodists don't really believe in the rapture, so I was just reading it as an adventure novel, but they're horribly written! I couldn't take it. Matthew tells us he's won a $25,000 scholarship for college and by the time he gets there that should cover...maybe half a semester.

The Shot tonight is a rabbit attacking a snake. And that rabbit really jumps. Man, what's going on? Rabbits attacking snakes, bees disappearing, and my mom told me the other day that she saw a cat chasing a dog down the street. Craziness. Anderson notes that a duck also wandered into the situation. Oh, tread lightly with the ducks there, Anderson. You don't want to have to make another apology to your, shall we say, uptight viewers. "Who says white rabbits can't jump?" asks Erica. Heh. Oh, those crazy kids. Okay, despite my previous crabbiness, the show was actually pretty good in terms of what was covered and the variation of stories. Just...stop making me yell at you, 360. Because it makes me sad and stuff. B+


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