Keith Olbermann returned to "Countdown" from his two-day suspension with a bang on Tuesday, sidling into the view of the cameras in front of his empty seat and saying, "this was not a publicity stunt. Of course, if I had known all of this would happen, I would have done this years ago!"
Later, at the end of the show, Olbermann talked for just over six minutes about his suspension.
He said he was "stunned and grateful" to viewers, and that he owed them three apologies. The first was "for having subjected you to all this unnecessary drama."
The second was his failure to know about the rule regarding political donations at NBC -- although, he said, such a rule was not in his contract, and "any rule like that in any company is probably not legal."
His third apology was to the electoral opponent of one of the people he donated to, Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, for including him in a "Worst Person In The World" segment the day after he made the donations. Olbermann said he had not known that the man, Jesse Kelly, was running against Giffords, but that he should not have been included in the segment. WATCH:
After thanking various columnists and MSNBC figures -- and after playing clips of Jay Leno and Jon Stewart discussing the suspension -- Olbermann returned to the topic of his donations.
"I think we saw where the political contribution system is working for transparency and democracy," he concluded. I made legal political contributions as a U.S. citizen near midnight Eastern on Thursday night, Oct. 28. By 10 PM Eastern on Thursday night, Nov. 4th, those contributions were public knowledge. And that's the point...I gave and you found out and you judged me for good or for ill...if I had given the money through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, you would have never, ever known."