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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
The Best and Worst of 2008
Aired December 31, 2008 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TOM FOREMAN, HOST (voice over): 2008 started with a bang and went steadily uphill or downhill, depending on your point of view. For political junkies, it was pure adrenaline.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: You always follow me around and play these little games.
FOREMAN: A year of crushing defeat.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: Shame on you, Barack Obama.
FOREMAN: And astonishing victories.
FOREMAN: For Wall Street wizards, it was the season of the witch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems like everyone is hurting.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: The stock market today plummeted nearly 800 points.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: More than half million Americans lost their jobs last month.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) OHIO: None of us came here to have to vote for this mud sandwich.
FOREMAN: In the movies ...
JOKER (played by Heath Ledger): It's simple. Kill the Batman.
FOREMAN: ... to on TV.
TINA FEY (impersonating Gov. Sarah Palin): Available now, we've got a bunch of this.
FOREMAN: At work and at play -- 2008 was one for the books. And this is where it goes on record with political comic Jimmy Tingle, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, Court TV's Lisa Bloom, the "New York Times'" Marcus Mabry, the "Washington Post's" Chris Cillizza, comedian Dana Gould, the "Washington Times'" Tara Wall, and CNN's money man, Ali Velshi -- all here to help us pick out "All the Best, All the Worst of 2008."
FOREMAN: Welcome to NO BIAS, NO BULL and AC360's look back and look ahead. I'm Tom Foreman.
And with the old year at an end and a new year at hand, it's time to take stock, assuming you have any stock left. The economy was hands down the worst story of the year. But we'll get to that along with Sarah Palin, Eliot Spitzer, the Olympics, the pregnant man, and the best and worst of movies, music, the Internet and so much more.
But we begin with the biggest, baddest, boldest, and best story of 2008: The race for president.
FOREMAN (voice-over): In every way, at every turn, in every moment, this was the campaign of more -- more run up to the election.
JIMMY TINGLE, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: This election season, what is it, about nine years?
TARA WALL, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: And for political junkies, it's great.
FOREMAN: More candidates.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred Thompson.
LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": John Edwards.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rudy Giuliani.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTON POST: Dennis Kucinich.
PEREZ HILTON, CELEBRITY BLOGGER: I always was baffled by Mike Huckabee's success.
FOREMAN: More money, more debate.
DANA GOULD, COMEDIAN: It looked like a retirement home theater company is going to have a chorus line.
FOREMAN: More passion.
BLOOM: This is an election that riveted the American people unlike any that I've seen in my entire lifetime.
FOREMAN: And it came down to more votes for the most unlikely champion of this historic election year -- the best campaigner of 2008: Barack Obama.
CILLIZZA: This was the Rolls Royce of Rolls Royce campaigns. He was able to play (ph) in any number of states and we saw there was hope.
MARCUS MABRY, NEW YORK TIMES: He had more message discipline than any Democrat ever had. BLOOM: I think it was a breath of fresh air, and it's so exciting to see the signs that say "Yes, we did."
BLOOM: I think it certainly puts to rest the question whether this nation is racist overall. And I don't believe it is.
FOREMAN: John McCain could easily carry the honors for worst political defeat.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: You little jerk.
FOREMAN: But in a terrible year for Republicans ...
MCCAIN: Joe, where are you?
FOREMAN: He still scored more than 58 million votes.
TINGLE: Even if you didn't vote for him, I think most people found McCain a very appealing figure, myself included.
FOREMAN: So the worst (INAUDIBLE) goes to Hillary Clinton, the one- time favorite
CILLIZZA: This is someone who was absolutely convinced until the day that she dropped out of the race that she was going to not just be the Democratic nominee, but be the next president of the United States.
FOREMAN: All her good natured drinking, tough love from her husband ...
B. CLINTON: They're feeding you this because they know this is what you want to cover, this is what you live for.
FOREMAN: And even tears ...
H. CLINTON: I see what's happening. We have to reverse it.
FOREMAN: ... could not stave off Obama's rise.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT: Thank you.
FOREMAN: He bowled like an amateur, but raised money, fended off attacks.
H. CLINTON: Enough with the speeches.
ANNOUNCER: It's 3:00 a.m. ...
H. CLINTON: Bitter.
FOREMAN: And he pulled votes like an old pro.
GOULD: I don't know if you have seen the film "King Kong Versus Godzilla." But the first time King Kong realized Godzilla has fire breaths -- that's the look I saw on Hillary Clinton's eyes. MABRY: And in the end, Barack Obama not only changed the minds, I think, of lots of African-Americans who didn't believe that was possible, either, but changed the minds of lots of people around the world.
FOREMAN: Still, the senator from New York gets some top honors, too. Best campaign by a Democrat in a non-winning role. She got 18 million votes and did something no woman has ever done before.
BLOOM: I think 2008 was really the rise of women in politics -- Hillary Clinton and then Sarah Palin. And I think women have proven that they are tough enough, that they're smart enough, and they're going to be judged based on their content not on the fact that they are male or female.
FOREMAN: On the Republican side, worst campaign, the "Law and Order" man, Fred Thompson. Grade opening -- terrible show.
VELSHI: Fred Thompson never really made it clear that he was all that interested in working all that hard for it.
FOREMAN: Best campaign by a non-winning Republican, Ron Paul.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a ninja and I think he's going to sneak on in. He's got (INAUDIBLE) the skills like that. He's going to ...
FOREMAN (on camera): Really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... run across the street.
FOREMAN: Have you seen him do that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the time.
CILLIZZA: He was raising millions of dollars over the Internet for a campaign that by and large seemed quixotic.
VELSHI: Whenever he'd come on CNN, our phones and our e-mails would light up.
HILTON: I think people were excited about Ron Paul this year not necessarily because of him but because of what he stood for, which was an alternative, something different. America is tired of a two-party system. I know I am.
FOREMAN: Much of the world seemed tired of the sitting president this year, only about one in four Americans liked the job he was doing.
HILTON: Here's a confession, whether John McCain won or Barack Obama won, I was going to be happy. You know why? Because both of them would have done a better job than George W. Bush has the last eight years.
WALL: It was a rough year to be George Bush, but I think at the end of the day, history will judge George Bush much more fairly than he's been judged now.
FOREMAN: Still, no one was subjected to more snap judgments than the governor of Alaska-turned-vice presidential contender, Sarah Palin.
GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R) ALASKA: You know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.
FOREMAN: Just like Democrat Joe Biden, she drew attack dog duty but also faced a chorus of attacks -- as too unknown, too untested.
PALIN: I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you.
CILLIZZA: If you're a Democrat, you think she's the least qualified person to be vice president in modern history. If you're a Republican, especially a Republican who you can consider as part of the party base, you think she was a different face, a different resume, a different voice. And you are ready to do anything you can to vote for Sarah Palin in 2012.
WALL: I think that she is going to have quite an impact on the future of Republican politics.
GOULD: Yes, the people who thought that Sarah Palin was going to disappear at the end of the election were sadly mistaken.
FOREMAN: Best and worst geography lesson, give it to the governor.
TINGLE: But when she said she knows a lot about foreign policy because in Alaska, you can actually see Russia, no offense there, but people in Detroit can see Canada. It doesn't mean they have healthcare.
FOREMAN: Of course, it wasn't all fun and games on the political playing field. Coming up: There were sex, scandal, excitement, and indictments -- and then it got rough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CILLIZZA: I now no longer believe that anything is impossible.
GOULD: Nothing will stamp out gay sex faster than gay men.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: All that, plus, Britney goes from bad to better; face it, it's Facebook; CEO, oh, no; and, have you got gas? When "All the Best, All the Worst: 2008" continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLOOM: What a great year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: The word of the year, according to Merriam Webster's online survey was "bailout," and in 2008, that's what plenty of Americans seemed ready to do.
FOREMAN (voice-over): The mortgage crisis, falling home values, rising unemployment, and the cost of gas pounded our pocket books. Not as bad as a depression the White House said.
PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: We're going through a tough time.
FOREMAN: But by year's end, even the president had to admit, "Yes, it's a recession."
VELSHI: We saw more than 2 million layoffs over the course of 2008, which means everybody knows somebody who lost a job. And if you were trying to get into the housing market or get out of the housing market by selling a home, you were just whacked in 2008.
FOREMAN: Worst waste of money: the mortgage market made too many loans to too many people who had too little ability to pay them back.
TINGLE: What was going through the minds of some of these financial lending institutions? I mean, do you have a job? No, I don't. Do you have any money in the bank? I really don't. Do you have any kind of collateral? Not at all. You're going to need a house.
FOREMAN: Soon enough, the stock market, retirement accounts, and much more went into freefall, losing money faster than most of us can count.
HILTON: I can comprehend hundreds of millions. But when we start talking about billions and trillions, my mind just can't wrap itself around it. That was not my forte.
FOREMAN: As big corporations started begging for government help, the worst free ride award went to the Big Three car company execs, who came for a handout in their private jets.
VELSHI: And it seems that the further the CEO gets from the average American, the more tone deaf they get about this thing.
FOREMAN: No wonder, as bailout fever grew, polls showed voters are increasingly sour on helping fix the economy for some of the very folks who helped break it.
WALL: Here you have a situation, quite frankly, where Wall Street got greedy; homeowners got greedy; Congress shut their eyes, held up their noses -- let it happen. And now, the taxpayers are saying, "We're not going to take it."
GOULD: Anybody who thinks the government can fix the problem should go to the DMV (ph) and look around.
FOREMAN: Worst confidence booster that anyone can fix the economy -- the wild fluctuations in gas prices.
TINGLE: Why can't we increase the bicycle here? Why can't we build interconnecting bike paths? Why can't we make the bicycle itself a tax deduction? Why can't we have Detroit build cars that you can actually pedal?
What are you, a house' angel?
Yes, I am.
Get in. I make this thing up to 40.
FOREMAN: Gay rights activists were looking for some kind of help after a variety of votes went across their cause, notably, California's Proposition Eight -- best protest of the year, or at least, some of the loudest.
HILTON: That really upsets me, frustrates me, and breaks my heart, because I am equal to every other American out there. And I deserve the same rights that everyone else gets.
WALL: In voting 95 percent for Barack Obama, 77 percent of black Californians voted down gay marriage. It is the people's will that should rule above all.
TINGLE: How is that possibly going to threaten my marriage? What? Am I going to walk out here tonight and go, "You know, I spent 12 blissful years with my lovely wife, Catherine, but what about Chuck?"
FOREMAN: Of course, outside, all the regular political drama of an election year even as Obama ruled out his new team, the government gang had problems of its own.
MABRY: This was a good year for political scandal.
JOHN EDWARDS, (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I made a very serious mistake.
MABRY: I don't know (ph) how you look at that good term.
FOREMAN: Worst potential eBay ad -- the governor of Illinois accused of trying to sell Obama's old Senate seat. He denies wrongdoing.
MABRY: It is an extraordinary turn of events. It is mind-boggling politics. In a year of political scandal, that was nothing short of also mind boggling. FOREMAN: Is Illinois the most corrupt state in the country?
ROBERT GRANT, FBI AGENT: If it isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it's certainly one hell of a competitor.
FOREMAN: Worst end to a long career: Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, convicted of federal crime, beaten in his bid for re-election, too.
PALIN: It's pretty brutal.
FOREMAN: Worst photo op: That's in Alaska, also.
PALIN: I'm always in charge of the turkey so I'm where I need to be today to prepare for that.
FOREMAN: Sarah Palin's presser in front of a live turkey grinder.
And best battle down to the wire: The Minnesota Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken. Has that been decided yet?
AL FRANKEN, (D) MINNESOTA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: We think that we'll prevail.
FOREMAN: Worst date with disaster: New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, the one-time prosecutor and white-collar crime crusader, fell in lust and out of his job after his private visit with an escort became public.
CILLIZZA: This was a guy who was widely seen as presidential medal (ph), a guy who was very likely to run for president at some point down the line.
VELSHI: There were a lot of people gunning for him. There were a lot of people on Wall Street who really wanted to see Eliot Spitzer fail because he had gone so far to point out their own errors and their own extremes.
FOREMAN: Ashley Dupre eventually said she felt a kinship with Spitzer's wife. She wasn't the only one.
BLOOM: The hardest part of that case to me had to be his wife standing next to him with that stepford wife gaze in her eyes.
GOULD: That was so sad that Johnny Carson was not around to dive into it. Because you know that he was up in heaven just frantically writing jokes. All that somehow involved him going (INAUDIBLE) gabbles.
FOREMAN: With all of the trouble in the halls of power, the power players in pop culture could barely make the news, but they did, and how?
Coming up: We're expecting; squeezing the Juice; Tina's take.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALL: I thought she was hilarious.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: And oh, my -- Miley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILTON: What was her father thinking?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: More, "All the Best, All the Worst: 2008."
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Erica Hill live in New York City's Times Square, the best place to celebrate New Year's.
And that's exactly what we're doing with you right here on CNN, beginning tonight at 11:00 Eastern with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin, and hundreds of thousands of our closest friends here in Times Square where it's a balmy 17 degrees. You add in the wind chill, we're talking a negative one, but that never stops a party here. People from around the country and across the globe are here in Times Square to ring in 2009, along with a number of musical guests that we'll be bringing you live here on CNN.
We're bringing you Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne, Three Doors Down, and that is just the beginning of the evening we have planned for you. There's a brand new ball that we'll be dropping tonight at midnight. It takes a minute for it to descend that full 68 feet, twice as big as last year's. There have been seven balls since the ball started dropping here in Times Square for more than 100 years ago. This one, 12 feet in diameter. So, be sure to see it at home.
And we want to know what you're doing at home. Just log on to AC360.com and that's where you can share your party pics, perhaps it's a little warmer where you're ringing in 2009. Log on to AC360.com. Look for the iReport link there. And we want to see the pictures of your party. We want to know what you're doing to celebrate as we celebrate with you there at home.
I'm Erica Hill. Stay with us for live updates and also for that promised (ph) show starting at 11:00 Eastern. We'll return you in just a moment to Tom Foreman, "Best and Worst of 2008." That continues right here on CNN.
FOREMAN (voice-over): The culture went pop again this year just as it always does with celebrities.
MABRY: It was a good year for pop culture, wasn't it? It was exciting.
FOREMAN: It was certainly exciting for Oh, my, Miley Cyrus. The 15- year-old star who put the Hannah in Montana found herself in hot water.
HILTON: Easily, my favorite celebrity of 2008 was Miley Cyrus.
MILEY CYRUS, CELEBRITY: I'm a bit of (INAUDIBLE) what I can.
HILTON: Why? Because she's somebody new to talk about and somebody who was not boring.
FOREMAN: Call her the best at not being boring, for her provocative photo spread in "Vanity Fair," a little too provocative for some fans.
CYRUS: I wanted to tell you, I was afraid.
FOREMAN: She apologized but she didn't know what would develop.
WALL: I didn't buy the whole thing that her parents didn't know this was going to be a provocative photo. You need to take a little more responsibility.
FOREMAN: It didn't help that private snaps then showed up on the Internet, some with her older boyfriend.
HILTON: What was her father thinking?
BLOOM: Miley Cyrus is so talented and so young. And I think we all hope she doesn't blame out early. She's got to be very, very careful. We don't want another Britney on our hands in a couple years.
FOREMAN: Britney Spears last year took our worst comeback award. This year, give her the best behavior badge for all the headlines she did not make.
MABRY: Yes. Did Britney made a comeback or didn't or something? Yes.
VELSHI: You certainly didn't spend 2008 hearing all the same nonsense about her behavior as you did in 2007.
FOREMAN: Her latest performances have critics saying, "She's back."
BLOOM: America loves the comeback story. And Britney Spears is a little girl that we all watched grow up.
HILTON: I'm really happy that Britney has been able to get her life under control.
CILLIZZA: Bill Clinton might not like this, but Britney Spears is like Bill Clinton. They are people who, no matter how many people come them out, always seem to find a way.
FOREMAN: It was not all happy returns. Worst publicity stunt of the year?
DAVID BLAINE, MAGICIAN: Mentally, pretty good.
FOREMAN: Magician David Blaine magically producing yawns by hanging upside down in Central Park.
GOULD: The trick that I want David Blaine to do and I'm challenging him here -- go away.
FOREMAN: Worst settlement?
MABRY: Madonna got divorced, didn't she?
FOREMAN: Yes, she and Guy Ritchie split after eight years, and he walks away with $75 million.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) present.
FOREMAN: Worst and maybe best legal drama? O.J. Simpson back in court, 13 years after he was acquitted in the murder of his ex-wife and friend.
O.J. SIMPSON, FORMER FOOTBALL STAR: I didn't mean to hurt anybody and I didn't mean to steal from anybody.
FOREMAN: The law lands on him hard over charges of robbery.
BLOOM: And it was just extraordinary to me how this man's ego and arrogance finally brought him down. That now, he's behind bars for at least nine years. It's just amazing, who would have thought.
WALL: I think there is a huge sigh of relief, finally, justice has been served -- in my opinion.
HILTON: O.J. Simpson was finally found guilty of something in '08, and I think, wow, what took them so long?
FOREMAN: Real life was what the celebrity world was all about this year. Stars endorsed politicians, hoping to make them win or took up causes hoping to make us all notice. And while we watched their antics off screen, onscreen, we were watching ourselves.
RYAN SEACREST, TV HOST: This is "American Idol."
FOREMAN (voice-over): The list of top-rated TV shows was heavily- stacked -- with competitions featuring regular people trying to be like stars. ANNOUNCER: For two stars, this first week will be their last.
FOREMAN: Or regular stars trying to be like people.
WALL: I'm not a big "reality show" person.
WALL: Except for the "Real Housewives of Atlanta," I got hooked to that.
FOREMAN: A freaky house ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
FOREMAN: ... and some "Desperate Housewives" found a way to keep breaking through on the dramatic front.
Jim's long awaited but utterly unexpected proposal to Pam made "The Office" buzz.
UNDIENTIFIED MALE: Four hundred patriots dead.
FOREMAN: While a long gone president, "John Adams," was an HBO triumph.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Advertising is a very small world.
FOREMAN: However, give the overall best drama award to the show that always lived up to its advertising.
MABRY: "Mad Men," greatest show in television. Put us back in another time in America -- 1960, 1962 America, a very different era, before we became the country we are today.
FOREMAN: But the worst moment on television...
ANNOUNCER: Rosie O'Donnell.
FOREMAN: Rosie O'Donnell's "Rosie Live" -- dead on arrival.
HILTON: It aired on one of the most watched night of television, the evening before Thanksgiving, and only about 5 million people tuned in.
ROSIE O'DONNELL, TV HOST: Like many actress, I don't really read my reviews.
HILTON: Several moments of the show, in fact, the majority of it, was just embarrassing.
FOREMAN: Tough news for anyone hoping for a breakthrough in the light comedy ranks.
HILTON: If you look at the list of top 20 TV shows in 2008, only one sitcom made the list. America had lost its sense of humor.
TINA FEY (impersonating Gov. Sarah Palin): Hillary and I don't agree on everything.
AMY POEHLER (impersonation Hillary Clinton): Anything.
FOREMAN: Well, not entirely.
POEHLER: Diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy.
FEY: And I can see Russia from my house.
FOREMAN: The best moment on TV this year: Every time Tina Fey took on Sarah Palin.
FEY: And now, I'd like to entertain everybody with some fancy pageant walking.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, "WASHINGTON POST": Tina Fey should send a thank you note to Sarah Palin. She is now arguably the most well known comic in the country at this point.
TINA FEY AS SARAH PALIN: The real one.
PEREZ HILTON, CELEBRITY BLOGGER: Tina Fey needs to give Sarah Palin a really big hug if she hasn't already. In 2008, Tina Fey went from, I would say a B-list actress, comedy writer, to an a-list super star.
LISA BLOOM, AUTHOR, "IN SESSION": And Tina Fey, don't underestimate yourself. I think you did make a difference in this election. Who can think of Sarah Palin even now without thinking of Tina Fey's impressions of her? It really did her in.
TARA WALL, "THE WASHINGTON TIMES": You know, I think some of it was probably a little over the line, but overall, it was all in fun, and I thought she was hilarious.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN HOST: Coming up in our year book, most likely to run, most likely to have fun, most likely to carry a gun.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything that has action, I am there.
FOREMAN: All the best, all the worst, 2008.
FOREMAN: A lot of other serious news rolled by during all the election and economic turmoil, the Russian bear reared up to strike a neighbor. The peace process in the Middle East came to a near standstill, and Iraq, the story that was supposed to dominate the campaigns, did anything but.
Best news from abroad. Better days for American troops, and less violence for Iraqis, too.
MARCUS MABRY, "NEW YORK TIMES": The greatest part of the year was probably the progress in Iraq. In relative terms, 2008 was a great year for Iraq. It was a year we actually saw real stability take hold there, and some political progress. Not nearly enough, but some.
FOREMAN: Enough to convince most Americans it is getting better there. Polls show the vast majority still want to get out. Afghanistan still getting worse. And of course, India, the attacks in Mumbai, a reminder of terror's dark intent.
BLOOM: What a sad situation and example of how far we still have to go in fighting terrorism, and frankly, can we ever in our lifetime defeat terrorism?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: On one level, I'm heartened by the fact that the world seems like a smaller place and we can identify much more easily with these tragedies that occur in other parts of the world because that will help us all together try to overcome them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Marine corps really dropped the ball here.
FOREMAN: There was, as always, difficult news closer to home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The marines didn't release Laurean's name to the sheriff's department.
FOREMAN: Stories of murders and mayhem and awful accusations emerging from that Texas polygamous compound. Meanwhile, shocking pictures of Utah polygamist leader Warren Jeffs. He's in jail and appealed his conviction for being an accomplice to rape for presiding over the marriage of teenage cousins.
BLOOM: Warren Jeffs was such a sad story and I'm glad that he was convicted. We really got inside the minds of these polygamist leaders and the things they do.
FOREMAN: Even the Olympic torch had to overcome troubles in its long run. Facing a gauntlet of protestors in the United States and elsewhere fighting for human rights, among other things.
WALL: I did not follow the Olympics much because I was disappointed that we had them in China. I was disappointed that the president chose to go to the opening games in China.
FOREMAN: But the games opened just the same with a ceremony that roared like a dragon.
CILLIZZA: Just absolutely, absolutely amazing.
VELSHI: I think the Olympics did what the Olympics are supposed to do. It's supposed to bring people together outside of politics, and it did a good job. ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Record smashing Michael Phelps with 16 Olympic medals.
HILTON: I love looking at Michael Phelps, from the neck down.
MICHAEL PHELPS, OLYMPIAN: I put them all on for the first time this morning. They're heavy around my neck.
FOREMAN: Best sportsman of the year.
PHELPS: I wanted to do something that nobody in the sport has ever seen.
FOREMAN: Phelps was unstoppable, mining gold eight times in Beijing. That's a world record and bringing his lifetime gold count to 14. That's a world record, too.
VELSHI: Under what conditions could I out swim Michael Phelps?
MABRY: If I was on a boat?
VELSHI: Probably under the same conditions that I can grow a full head of hair and be mistaken for Vin Diesel.
MABRY: He's a fish.
CILLIZZA: I don't understand how you could possibly swim that much and win that much. I think it's a great story.
DANA GOULD, COMEDIAN: I would like to see the Olympics winnow down to more of a Thunderdome or Death Race concept. You want to see a guy swim fast, give his opponent a baseball bat with a nail in it.
FOREMAN: As for China -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even though they are still in many respects a closed society, that event, it had to open it up. And I'm sure it has, and China will probably never be the same, which is a good thing.
FOREMAN: Speaking of sports, worst finish.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about making NFL history.
FOREMAN: The New England Patriots, a perfect season until the Super Bowl with the Giants. When it wasn't. Best finish, the last game at Yankee Stadium. No more stolen bases. Plenty of fans trying to make off with dirt from the field, paint from the walls, most of it stopped by security.
VELSHI: Although one of the security guards did tell me that someone had made an attempt to steal a toilet from Yankee Stadium. I don't know when the last time you were at Yankee Stadium was, Tom, but the toilet is not the thing I would have gone for.
FOREMAN: Worst problem that sports just can't shake, accusations of performance-enhancing drugs. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not just a ball player. I'm a human being.
FOREMAN: The so-called pregnant man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He, she.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He, she, it.
FOREMAN: And the best, most sporting family photo of the year, or at least the one everyone seemed to talk about, the pregnant man.
GOULD: I can remember when I was in college coming home from spring break, thinking, oh my god. What is I'm pregnant.
VELSHI: My first impression when I looked at the picture was it was doctored. My second impression was oh my goodness, there's a man who is pregnant. That's pretty big news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just couldn't go there. I don't want to know about the pregnant man.
VELSHI: And then my third impression is OK it's not entirely what we thought it was the first time.
FOREMAN: True enough. Biologically, Thomas Beatie was born a woman and has undergone sex change procedures. Not so much, however, to stop him from delivering a tiny baby girl and a huge debate.
HILTON: I love the pregnant man story. I love the fact that America was having a discussion on transgender issues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was ridiculous, in a word.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I had a uterus, I would have a baby, too. That's not impressive.
FOREMAN: In a moment, facing the facts about Facebook.
The best and worst songs of the year -
And the best movies to munch popcorn by. Did your favorite make our list? All the best, all the worst, 2008.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Erica Hill, live in Times Square, the heart of New York City, and the place to ring in the new year. Definitely the place to be as we say hello to 2009, just a few hours away. But if you can't be here in Times Square, where I have to admit it's a little chilly, about 19 degrees, 1 with the wind chill factor. Well then the next best place to be is right where you are watching CNN. Because tonight we are bringing you all the action live from Times Square, as we do every year, hosted by Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin. It starts at 11:00 Eastern time. And what a party it will be. We have musical guests that will run the gamut. Lil Wayne, Lynyrd Skynrd. You name it, we've got them. As I mentioned, Kathy Griffin back with Anderson Cooper this year. You can bet there will be a few laughs to come your way.
Here in Times Square, there's a brand new ball which you will see drop at the stroke of midnight. It will take about a minute for it to descend. Twice as big as last year's, and pushing the button to make that ball descend, former president Bill Clinton and his wife, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, who could possibly soon become Secretary of State. All that coming up right here. Right now, we return you to CNN.
JOKER: And here we go.
FOREMAN: In the bright lights of Hollywood, the "Dark Knight" was triumphant this year leading all other movies by grossing a half billion dollars. Holy best box office, Batman.
GOULD: I like the "Dark Knight." I like the big summer blockbuster.
JOKER: Kill the Batman.
WALL: That was a great movie. I loved that one, too. Yes, that was anything that has action, I am there.
JOKER: Now, there is the Batman.
FOREMAN: The victory was bitter sweet. The film premiered months after the death of the young Australian actor Heath Ledger, who died in January from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. And BTW -
CILLIZZA: I just recently saw on my vacation - "Australia", which is amazing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be interesting.
CILLIZZA: It's About 16 hours long, as far as I can tell, but it's wonderful.
FOREMAN: "Ironman" proved his mettle, and another tin can, "Wall-E," another winner.
HILTON; What I loved about "Wall-E" was the fact that there wasn't even any dialogue for the first third or half of the film. It was something really special.
BLOOM: Pray the devil back to hell.
GOULD: "Slumdog millionaire."
FOREMAN: "Sex and the city" went from cable to the cinema, proving size does matter. CARRIE BRADSHAW: It's the last single-girl kiss.
FOREMAN: And "Changeling" with Angelina Jolie created an Oscar buzz.
ANGELINA JOLIE: I will not stop looking for my son.
FOREMAN: Earlier in the year, her brood of children grew to six with the birth of twins. The first picture of which fetch a record $14 million. Yet, this is a movie about a woman whose child disappears.
GOULD: I just thought it was odd casting because if anybody would seem unfazed by a missing child, it would be Angelina Jolie. I would be surprised if she would even notice one gone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't see one movie, Tom. I live in a cave.
FOREMAN: A guy who has been in a lot of caves, "Indiana Jones," proved even in his 60s, he can still turn on the teen.
VELSHI: I just saw the new "Indiana Jones, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," I think it was called.
GOULD: I remember seeing "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in 1981. And I remember being so excited and loving that movie so much. The thing that I don't remember thinking during that film is, he's going to break his hip.
FOREMAN: The older crowd invaded a lot of the younger set's turf this year, and in one area in particular, social networking on the internet. With the economy turning down, oceans of professionals took interest in the career networking site like linked-in. But there was one hands-down winner in cyberland.
The best place to be seen online this year, Facebook. Four years ago, Facebook had a mere million faces online. Now the company says it's tipping the cyber scales with a whopping 140 million active users.
BLOOM: Yes, 2008 was a year that I discovered Facebook, and I think millions of people of my generation discovered Facebook, to the absolute horror of our teenagers.
VELSHI: Social networking is going to be one of the most important things that Americans can use, not just to keep in touch, but to actually network for their jobs, for their businesses.
GOULD: I can actually be out with my real friends and spend time communicating with my fake friends. Gives me a lot of comfort at night. Because my real friends aren't so cool.
BLOOM: And I say to my friends now, if you're not on Facebook, I can't be friends with you. I don't know how to interact with you. If you're not going to tag me in a photo, dude, I think we're done.
FOREMAN: And the worst place to be seen online? That's Facebook, too. As millions of grown-ups continue to resist the call.
MABRY: I get calls every day from people who are like 85 asking me to go on Facebook. I can't deal with want more information coming in.
WALL: I am not going to get a Facebook page. Sorry. You know where to find me.
FOREMAN: Most misunderstood tech link of the year. Twitter. People who got it, really did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go to our twitter board -
FOREMAN: People who didn't get it, really didn't.
GOULD: I don't twitter. Certainly not that I would admit to publicly. Oh, it's a technical term.
HILTON: Twitter is this service that allows you to post small messages and have people subscribe, and you tell your friends and subscribers what it is you're doing all day and where it is you are. I don't want people knowing that much information about me.
FOREMAN: Best high-tech gadget of the year. Lots of small improvements and combining of technologies but no breakout champion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a phone this year.
BLOOM: Well as for gadgets, I love my Blackberry. Don't make me turn it off. Don't take it away from me.
WALL: When I first moved to D.C. four years ago, I had the standard phone with nothing on it. Now my phone does everything - it's got video, internet and blackberry.
FOREMAN: Worst old school loss technology, Polaroid film. Worst low- tech problem, for the second year running, pirates.
Sure, the big trouble is off the coast of Africa not Florida, but still, these guys are persistent. Best person to have on the boat with you, the Pope, who came to America for six days and said, hey, don't let the bad times get you down.
BLOOM: Go, Pope.
FOREMAN: Best book, J.K. Rowling's book post Harry Potter pen work, "Beedle the Bard," became a monster seller.
HILTON: I was too busy writing my own book to read any other book.
VELSHI: I read a great book called the "Partnership." It's the history of Goldman-Sachs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have about 900 books. They're all on page 12.
GOULD: The best book I read this year is a book by Tim Weiner called "Legacy of Ashes" which is the history of the CIA.
FOREMAN: Best new music? Too many options to sort out. Coldplay, Kanye, Pink, Beyonce and so many others which excited folks all over. HILTON: Katie Perry is definitely one of the breakout musicians of 2008. she had the song of the summer with "I kissed a girl."
WALL: I fell in love with Cowboy Troy. He's country rap, as you probably know. But I think he's just the coolest.
FOREMAN: Nicest surprise? Duffy.
Who knew the Welsch were producing such talented kids? Most overhyped? Vampire weekend. They're not bad, but they're not as hot as their publicity campaign.
Worst song of the year?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know what boys like -
FOREMAN: The House bunny cover of "I know what boys like." When the waitresses did it in 1980s -
FOREMAN: It had that fighting Ohio sound. The new version just bites.
GOULD; The big news of the year was that Guns n' Roses finally after 14 years released Chinese Democracy. Sometimes it takes a good 13 to 14 years to record 70 minutes worth of music.
FOREMAN: And coolest song of the year? MIA's "Paper Planes." With a sample from the Clash, it's got something for the old and the young, the insiders and outsiders, too. We are almost out of time, but hold on to your boarding passes for the new year. We will have all of our guests sign the 360 yearbook with their final word for 2008 when we come back.
FOREMAN: You cannot close the cover on any yearbook until you had it signed by your pals. So as we wrapped up, we asked all your guests, what would you write to America in our yearbook for 2008?
DOYLE: What I would write, Tom, is humor for humanity. Humor in helping. Humor in healing. Humor in hope.
CILLIZZA: Historic times and a historic man. I think we'll realize as time goes on what it means that America has elected an African- American president.
WALL: America, keep your faith. That's all I got.
GOULD: America, loved playing D & D with you in study hall. Good luck in community college.
VELSHI: Tighten your seat belts, it's going to be a hell of a ride. I don't mean that to be depressing. It's going to be a hell of a ride, one way or the other.
MABRY: America, congratulations. And please try to keep a job.
HILTON: It could have been worse.
BLOOM: Thanks, CNN, for a great year. Looking forward to 2009.
FOREMAN: And thanks from all of us here at "No bias, No bull" and "AC360" for joining us for our trip through our yearbook and the past 12 months. I'm Tom Foreman, we wish only the best for you and yours in 2009.