Last night's AFL-CIO Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate in Chicago made for electrifying television. Famed "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann clearly relished his role. Hillary Clinton's blouse was modest, but I still saw a bit more neck than I thought appropriate. For those of you who missed it, it all went down something like this:
KEITH OLBERMANN: Welcome! Yay unions!
CHRIS DODD: Yay unions! I love mine workers. Safe bridges and highways rule. A Dem will win in 2008.
HILLARY CLINTON: Yay unions! Go Bears! My dad would love that his kid is "playing" at Soldier's Field. I love mine workers. Infrastructure, homeland security, Katrina, levees in New Orleans, bridges in Minnesota, 9/11!!!!
BARACK OBAMA: Welcome to Chi-town. Go Bears! Yay unions! We never should have gone to Iraq. We should go to Pakistan!
JOE BIDEN: Put America back to work. Security! Safety! 9/11 Commission Report! Plus, Hillary's subways suck.
JOHN EDWARDS: Yay unions! I love Minnesota. I love Utah mine workers. But mostly I love...Unions! Oh, and lobbyists are evil!
DENNIS KUCINICH: I believe we should create a Marxist utopia based on principles of shared goals and mutual respect, collective bargaining, and the right to strike. Workers of the world unite!!!
OBAMA: Soldier Field rules!
BILL RICHARDSON: Yay unions! (Please like me ... .)
OLBERMANN: OK, moving on. China: friend or foe?
CLINTON: We import things from China, people. Ewww. Think of your pets! If those Commies cared about health and safety the way you do, Fluffy would still be alive.
EDWARDS: Toys!!! We import toys from China. Think of the children. No one has even mentioned human rights.
KUCINICH: If you dig a hole long enough, you can get to China.
OLBERMANN: Next question: What if you pull out of Iraq and, heh heh, Al Qaeda takes over anyway?
OBAMA: I did not vote for this war!
BIDEN: I'm the only one with a plan.
CLINTON: I have a three-point plan.
EDWARDS: I would plan and prepare for all possible outcomes.
KUCINICH: I'm the only one who voted "no" on the war and "no" on more spending in Iraq, so step off Obama.
DODD: Ummm, didn't Obama say we should invade Pakistan? Let's bring that back up. Don't commit to things you can't deliver, Barack.
OBAMA: I thought we were friends, Chris. But you voted to get us into Iraq, and now I'm being ridiculed for wanting to take the fight to the right battlefield?! Remember, I did not vote for this war. I said no to the Iraq war. Bad idea, that's what I said.
CLINTON: Hey Obama, ixnay on the Akistanpay. Bin Adenlay might be isteninglay.
DODD: You're crazy Obama!
OBAMA: At least I didn't vote for the war!
OLBERMANN: Shut it, all of you. Let's take some questions from the audience.
SAGO MINE WIDOW: How will you improve safety in mines?
BIDEN: We may not love Musharraf but we need him right now.
HOSPITAL WORKER: I want to start a union at my job.
KUCINICH: Omigod, I know so many people who can help you with that. Yay unions! It's gonna be so awesome. I am super psyched for you!
IRAQ VET: I came back from Iraq to find I'd lost my Maytag job to Mexico. What will you do to protect my job and health care?
RICHARDSON: Health care and pensions for ALL Maytag workers! And you get a super cool red and silver "Hero's Health Card."
UNION MEMBER: My company filed for bankruptcy and I lost my pension. What's wrong with America?
EDWARDS: You are a perfect example of what's wrong with America! Let's treat CEOs like regular people! Universal health care! Yay unions! I'm the union man! I walked 200 freakin' picket lines! Who was with you, unions? Me! I was! I am the union guy, people. Yay unions!
CLINTON: I love audience members, and I love audience members who ask questions. Is that a new Teamster tee? Fabulous. You all look great. What are you doing after? By the way, I'll sign the Employee Free Choice Act.
IMMIGRANT: I just became an American citizen. What are you going to do about undocumented workers in the U.S.?
OBAMA: It's your first vote! That's so cool. Oh dude, totally make me your first vote. That would be sweeeet. We are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. By the way, I love unions! Illinois labor is all me. Yay unions!
NURSE: The health care system in this country is a total goddam disgrace.
BIDEN: If there are angels in Heaven, they're nurses. But enough about health care. Unions rule! I have walked my share of picket lines!! Nobody has a better record of walking than me. I did picket lines the whole time I was in the Senate. Picketing is just, like, a no-brainer, man. And I did it first.
KUCINICH: Universal health care for everyone!!
EDWARDS: 200 pickets, people! 200!! I picketed on Saturday. Hell, I picketed on Sunday. Everyone here knows it. Everyone knows that I am the labor guy here. No scab can break the line! That's what I always say. No scab breaks the line! That's the America I believe in. 200 pickets!!
OLBERMANN: Aren't you from a right-to-work state, Senator Edwards?
EDWARDS: Er, I guess. The point is: If the union was a person, I would kneel down and wash its toes with my tongue! And I know all the words to "Coal Miner's Daughter."
BIDEN: I washed Union's toes with my tongue first.
UNION MEMBER: How will you be energy-efficient?
DODD: I'd like to talk about health care.
TEACHER: How do you feel about No Child Left Behind?
CLINTON: A child is not a walking test. A child is a biological entity that requires a village and maybe some private tutors and great extracurriculars.
OLBERMANN: Moving on...You've waited all night, ladies and gentlemen, and I am now happy to present the Lightening Round! Double points for all correct answers. Also, the judges are telling me that it is still mathematically possible for Senator Dodd to win--if he answers all the questions right and everyone else gets at least one wrong. Ready?!
RICHARDSON: My veep would not be Cheney. It would be someone up here on stage....And his first name begins with a B and his last name starts with Obama.
CLINTON: I may take money from lobbyists, but in truth I hate them. I hate lobbyists, and I love unions! People at the union call me "sister."
OBAMA: I fight for you, not the check writers! Unless you are the check writers. I fight for the people who give me checks and who are also not lobbyists....And Barry Bonds may or may not be welcome at the White House.
BIDEN: I am not racist toward Republicans.
DODD: In a parliamentary system, Bush would so be gone by now.
EDWARDS: Lobbyists bad. Lawyers good. Unions the best. 200 pickets!
KUCINICH: I am officially changing my name to "Sea Biscuit."
OLBERMANN: That's a wrap. Let's hear from the judges...
CHRIS MATHEWS: Hillary Clinton, you've just won a brand-new Maytag washing machine direct from the beautiful Yucatan Peninsula.
By Sacha Zimmerman