Bubba Love (Willie Geist, Situation Senior Producer)

If you were doing the seating chart for a wedding reception, you probably wouldn’t sit Tucker Carlson next to Bubba The Love Sponge. On paper, they look like oil and water. One’s a bow-tied conservative who stays up at night thinking about immigration policy. The other’s a terribly offensive radio host who stays up at night watching midget porn. Luckily, life isn’t lived on paper.

Video: Bubba The Love Sponge Tucker and Bubba are a lot more alike than you think (and not just because they’re both into midget porn). Bubba visited "The Situation" on Wednesday night wearing a bow tie over his baseball jersey. There’s no faster way to Tucker’s heart than pretending you think bow ties are cool. From there, it was a love fest. They swapped stories about the biz. They took pictures together. They laughed like schoolgirls. I believe there was even a man-hug at one point. Tucker doesn’t do man-hugs. He really loved Bubba.

Bubba took over our director’s chair for a while. He immediately called for a shot of an attractive blonde reporter he saw in one of the monitors in the control room. Unfortunately she was on the air with another network. Bubba is a genius on the radio, but he’s still learning the fine points of television production.

For a guy who later on our show called himself "the most offensive personality in the history of our country", Bubba sure managed to charm everyone he met at MSNBC. Sure, he might castrate a nd slaughter a wild boar live on the radio every now and again, but who among us hasn’t? By the way, Bubba is statistically "the most offensive personality in the history of our country". He’s proud to hold the record for the largest fine ever levied by the FCC. He cost his employer $755,000. That’s a small price to pay for such a prestigious distinction, if you ask me.

It turns out Bubba The Love Sponge (that’s his legal name, by the way. You can check his driver’s license) and his producer Brent Hatley are big fans of "The Situation". Hatley says he never misses a show. That’s probably because he’s tormented by a rare sleep disorder that keeps him up at night, but we’ll take viewers any way we can get them. See you back on "The Situation" on Monday!

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February 17, 2006 |

Torino Tucker (Willie Geist, Situation Senior Producer)

If you’ve been watching the Olympics on MSNBC this week, you may have noticed Tucker hosting the daily “Olympics Update” show. A few people have said to me, “Tucker’s a talk show host. What does he know about the Olympics?” Well, if you must know, Tucker was an alternate on the Jamaican bobsled team that captured the world’s imagination at the 1988 Calgary Games. He doesn’t talk about it much. Partly because he’s not a braggart, but mostly because of the resentment he harbors about being cut out of the Cool Runnings movie deal. That wound still hasn’t healed.

I’d be lying if I said watching Tucker on “Olympics Update” wasn’t a little like watching your girlfriend on a date with another man. Tucker swears he and “Olympics Update” are just friends. That’s how every affair starts. I see the way they look at each other. I’ll be watching you “Olympics Update”, and not just for the latest medal count.

We here at “The Situation” have known for a long time that Tucker has no shame. The producers of his Olympic show are now finding out for themselves. Just this week, Tucker has donned full equipment to play hockey, snowboarded in the MSNBC parking lot, shown off his light feet while figure skating, worked the broom with the curling team, and worn a skin-tight, purple, lycra ski-jumping bodysuit. It all went out on national television. Well, not all of it. The purple bodysuit wasn’t for the show, but I will not comment publicly about Tucker’s unconventional private life.

Tucker is doing a great job and having fun with “Olympics Update”. I just hope he remembers that relationship is fleeting. We’re not mad at him for having feelings for another show. That happens in time. We just want him to remember where his home is. We’ll leave a light on for you, Tucker. See you back on “The Situation” on Monday.

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February 16, 2006 |

Cheney giving ammunition for slanderers? (Tucker Carlson)

The problem with liberals is not that they dislike the Bush administration, but that they dislike the Bush administration for all the wrong reasons. I could bore you all day with examples, but let's start with the latest White House micro-scandal, Dick Cheney's hunting trip.

Critics are angry that Cheney took so long to inform the press about the shooting of his 78-year-old hunting partner, and that when he did, he had a friend call the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, rather than a big city newspaper or network. To which the obvious response is: Who cares? Cheney was hunting on his own time, on private property. The shooting was an accident. No function of government was impaired. Does the public have a right to know what happened? Yes, and the public does know. Does the New York Times or ABC News have a right to know first? Nope. Protests to the contrary are just vanity, and one of the many reasons people dislike journalists.

Other, more fervid critics see a vast conspiracy at work. Leftwing bloggers (including one of Video: Cheney's Chappaquiddick? the guests on our show - see video) have suggested that Cheney delayed the announcement of the shooting because his mistress was on the scene. But wait a second: What about all that Clinton-era talk from liberals about how a politician's private life ought to remain private? Forget it. That was then.

Whether or not it's fair to raise it, the allegation is almost certainly wrong anyway. The woman in question brought her husband on the hunting trip. So unless Cheney is a whole lot weirder and more adventurous than any of us ever imagined, he's not sleeping with her. As you may have noticed repeatedly over the past six years, many of the administration's angriest critics are not only monomaniacal, but also badly informed.

Which is not to say Cheney did nothing wrong. He did. He drank before shooting. Yes, it was just one beer. No, it's still not acceptable, as every hunter well knows. No booze before shooting. Everyone understands the rule, which on most hunts is strictly enforced. Upland bird shooting is dangerous; dogs, hunters and birds move quickly in all sorts of unexpected directions, and it's easier than you'd think to shoot a friend or, worse, his dog. Again, everyone knows this, which is why so many otherwise frequently drunk hunters are so uptight about alcohol in the field.

The irony in all this is that Cheney, a genuine small government conservative, may end up helping to bring about more unneeded regulation of hunting. Drunk guys with guns firing at anything that moves? That's the stereotype of hunters. It's false, but it endures because it suits the agenda of those who favor gun control. Some of the most decent, responsible people I know are bird hunters. As a group, they know and care more about the natural world than the professional environmentalists I've come across. It's painful to see them slandered, and it's even worse to see Cheney give ammunition to the slanderers.

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February 10, 2006 |

Don't blame me; Cheney made me do it (Tucker Carlson)

A very odd story crossed the wires on Thursday night. Here's the gist: Scooter Libby, the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney who was indicted late last year, has reportedly told prosecutors that his superiors asked him to leak classified information to reporters. This appears to be the smoking gun that enemies of the White House have spent the last two years looking for, evidence that the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity came from the top.

And maybe it is. But it also raises a few questions. Among them:
Has Scooter Libby broken with Dick Cheney? That's what it looks like. Libby's admission is apparently part of his forthcoming defense strategy: Don't blame me; Cheney made me do it. This makes sense, except for two things. First, according to people who know, there is no break between Cheney and Libby. Scooter Libby remains devoted to his former boss. If Libby is blaming Cheney, he's doing it with Cheney's permission.

Why would the vice president encourage Libby to blame him? Because the revelation can't hurt Cheney and it might help Libby. Telling an aide to pass on information to journalists isn't illegal, as long as that information is declassified. Cheney, as vice president, has the power to declassify information. Moreover, Cheney may be the only person in the Bush White House who honestly doesn't care about how he's perceived by the public. If the New York Times editorial page attacks him tomorrow morning, Cheney will likely enjoy it. So maybe he did give Libby permission to mount such a defense.

But here's the second thing about the story: Scooter Libby isn't charged with passing classified information to reporters. The charges against him have nothing directly to do with the leak of Valerie Plame's name (a non-crime for which no one has been charged and no one ever will be). Libby is accused of lying, both to the grand jury and to federal agents, about conversations with the press and White House officials. So why is he telling prosecutors about a conversation that has no bearing on the charges against him?

Good question. I don't even have a plausible theory, except that there's a lot to this story we still don't know. I can't wait to find out. Stay tuned.

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February 3, 2006 

Hurricane Richard (Willie Geist, Situation Senior Producer)

Until Thursday, I had never born witness to a force of nature. I’ve never been caught in an earthquake. I’ve never seen a volcano erupt. Hell, I’ve never even seen the 1999 Sandra Bullock vehicle “Forces Of Nature” (that one haunts me with regret). I got my first experience last night when Hurricane Richard blew through the MSNBC World Headquarters. Let me tell you, it was a Category 5.

As is the case with any major storm, there’s really only so much preparation you can do. You can stock up on canned goods and put plywood over the windows, but when the hurricane makes landfall, you step aside and let nature take its course. In this case, nature was wearing a blue, bedazzled tank top and singing its favorite show tunes.

Video: Richard Simmons Richard Simmons is the first guest to receive a standing ovation from “The Situation” staff upon his arrival in our newsroom. Tucker has mandated that we applaud when he shows up for work every day, but he is not technically a “guest”. Resplendent in one of his custom-made tank tops and barely-there short shorts, Simmons burst into the room in song. He actually has a pretty good voice. The man’s talents know no bounds.

He then introduced himself to every member of our staff individually, stopping only to take pictures or commence his next number. He complemented one of our producers for her perfect teeth before he even knew her husband is a dentist. He carried on a phone conversation completely in Italian with the Italian wife of another of our producers. His impromptu chair massage of another male staffer was less warmly received, but it’s really the thought that counts.

Richard and Tucker got along like old friends. The moment I saw them standing together talking and laughing, I immediately began writing a treatment for a sitcom. “He’s a conservative in a bow tie. He’s a fitness guru in dolphin shorts.” You get the idea. Look for it on NBC’s fall primetime lineup.

To give you an idea of just how deep Richard’s love is, he took a red marker and drew a big heart on the wall in our newsroom. Inside it he wrote the words, “I So Love Tucker. Love, Richard Simmons”. I dare anyone to give us a hard time about defacing the wall. In fact, we just raised the property value of the building tenfold.

Richard Simmons has been a hero to a lot of people for a long time. If you could have seen him in our newsroom on Thursday, he’d be your hero too. See you back on “The Situation” on Monday!

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