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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

All the Best and All the Worst of 2009

Aired December 24, 2009 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And what may change is how we spend our money. And whether we chose to have it better coincide with our values.

I'm Christine Romans, thanks for watching.

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TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: 2009 exploded across America like a million points of hope and promise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KANYE WEST, SINGER: But Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: But it soon fizzled down to same old problems.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we don't have time to do that.

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FOREMAN: The economy went from bad to worse.

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no doubt that times are still tough.

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FOREMAN: Jobs ran short.

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FOREMAN: And tempers did, too. And we're going to grind it all out on the mean street with our panel. Actor and author Ben Stein, comedian Margaret Cho, talk show host Joy Behar, 360 super Twitter Jack Gray, political analyst Leslie Sanchez, "L.A. Times Columnist" Joel Stein, from The Daily Beast, Tina Brown, and MTV's Sway Calloway. All here to help us unveil 360's ALL THE BEST, ALL THE WORST OF 2009. Welcome, I'm Tom Foreman. And if you did not get a little nervous this year, you just weren't paying attention. From economics to politics to pop culture, everything seems to be in flux. Sure, the nation signed on for change, but by year's end, some were ready to say keep the change. Let's just move on to better times.

Still, as we chart our course into the future, it's worth looking back on all that got us to where we are, back to where the whole big bad year began.

We've got to give the biggest and worst story of 2009 to the economy, because it certainly gave it to us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think it's a year where America had to get off its sugar high.

BEN STEIN, "FORTUNE" COLUMNIST: It started out with an economic crisis that seemed to be a bottomless pit and started out as a very frightening time.

MARGARET CHO, COMEDIAN/ACTRESS: Certainly if you had a job, you were really lucky, and everybody was scaling back in their own way.

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FOREMAN: From the start, all the numbers were running bad. Employment, down; home sales, down; business, down, down, down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TINA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER/EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: I think it was a brutal year. I think this was a year when Americans worked twice as hard to earn half as much.

JACK GRAY, AC360 PRODUCER/WRITER: The economy sucks. Every man from the South, start stuffing your mattress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Worst ratio of year, 6 to 1, as in six people applying for every one job opening. Unemployment wound up at 10 percent, way up from the beginning of the year when it was well below eight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SWAY CALLOWAY, MTV NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I like to fish. When I fish now, I fish for dinner. Before I fished for sport. It's a little different now, though.

FOREMAN: Worst waiting list. Almost 16 million Americans at one point looking for paychecks and not finding them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOEL STEIN, COLUMNIST, L.A. TIMES: With all the unemployed people did hands across America, they could circle the Lower 48. Why aren't we working on this? That's what the Internet is for. If I try to tweet this now, we could get this done by noon.

JOY BEHAR, TV TALK SHOW HOST: Well, we have no place to go but up.

FOREMAN: We certainly pushed the deficit up in our efforts to stop the financial hemorrhaging. There was federal money to stabilize banks, car companies and more. The most stimulating number to be tossed around like popcorn, $1 trillion dollars.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAY: I can't comprehend with $1 trillion. I have negative $30 in my checking account right now. So, now, $1 trillion -- no.

CHO: Yes. I don't even know how many zeros that is. It's hard to fathom.

JOEL STEIN: It was shocking how much the government could spend even in the recession. They are just crazy with the credit card. I think it's online shopping that's done this.

BEN STEIN: The amount of money that the government is spending relative to the amount it's taking in has become a national catastrophe. And it is a catastrophe that cannot be avoided forever. We're going to be paying so much interest on the national debt. So much of each human being's work year is going to be spent paying the interest only in national debt. It is just going to be a crushing, terrible burden.

FOREMAN: Still, even many critics call the stimulus plan the best bailout possible among a lot of bad options.

BROWN: I think there's no question that without the extreme measures that were taken by the Obama administration, we really would have had a collapsed economy, which would really be an absolute catastrophe.

FOREMAN: Worst job fair tote board. The White House's job Web site, which tracked fictional jobs along with factual ones and relied heavily on the worst bureaucratic double speak of the year, jobs created or saved.

JOEL STEIN: I always got the feeling that the jobs created were the people in charge of deciding how many jobs were lost or created. I don't think any other actual jobs were created.

FOREMAN: Best and most common question of the year...

SANCHEZ: Are there going to be jobs tomorrow? Am I going to have a job tomorrow?

BEHAR: And it's pretty scary time for people. And this is, this is a seasonal time, and so people are in particular dire straits now. But you know what? Let the kids start playing with pots and pans again like they used to in the '40s. It was just fine. Bang the pots with the wooden spoons.

FOREMAN: Best bounces. The stock market shot up and down, but overall took the high road. The housing market, too, seemed to finally hit bottom and homes started selling again in some places, although buyers often came in through the bargain basement. Worst time, mom, all the mortgages still out there, teetering on the brink of foreclosure and the banks that keep calling like dominos.

BEN STEIN: We have passed through a spectacular bubble in real state. Somebody is going to have to pay for it.

CALLOWAY: I don't know the big market, the stock market. I don't know blackjack, roulette, it's kind of all the same to me now. So I try not to play any of them.

CHO: I think that I'm willing to give faith and have faith that things will change. I mean, that things have been so awful for the last so long.

FOREMAN: Best break for commuters or worst depending on your point of view. Cash for Clunkers.

SANCHEZ: Cash for Clunkers.

FOREMAN: The government gave people up to $4,500 to trade in gas guzzlers for higher mileage new models. And $700,000 folks took them up on the offer. Nice deal if you had the right clunker in your garage.

JOEL STEIN: It did seem random. You had to have the right kind of car at the right time, and then like your draft lottery number had to come up, and then you got the car. It's like, that's how Oprah does it. Because Oprah says, you get a car, and you get a car, and you get a car. And Obama was like, you get a car, you -- you not so much. And, you, no. You get a car.

BROWN: Cash for Clunkers was a perfectly practical concept. Everybody grasped it, and it seemed to be effective.

FOREMAN: Some said Cash for Clunkers gave the auto industry a much-needed boost, but overall, sales still fell about 25 percent as GM and Chrysler rattle down bankruptcy road.

GRAY: My own knowledge from Cash for Clunkers came from John McCain's tweets. And every day he was in some new rage about -- I don't know. I think he had like an old gremlin in a garage somewhere, and you couldn't get rid of it.

FOREMAN: Best speed demons despite all that, Hyundai, Kia, and Subaru all saw their sales go up.

CALLOWAY: Good time for those in the hood, man. You know, how many clunkers are in the hood? Turn that clunker in, and get cash. Are you kidding me. Man, there was a riot in the hood for that.

FOREMAN: Best deposit. Bernie Madoff checked into the iron bar hotel for 150 years. Worst stock market advisers, members of Congress. They kept telling the big companies taking bail out money that they needed to cut back on their pay and perks for CEOs. But they might as well have been talking to a brick wall for Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: But I want to be candid. This strategy will cost money. It will involve risk, and it will take time.

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BEN STEIN: There's so many people in fear. And then there are a few people just living it up and spending like there's no tomorrow, and that gap is quite wide. And I think it's disturbing and upsetting. And I find the gap between what Wall Street thinks is appropriate. And what the ordinary citizen thinks is appropriate is breath taking.

BEHAR: That's what's happening in the economy now.

FOREMAN: Enough on the economy. There were plenty of other things to take our breath away this year, including...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think we're in Alaska anymore, Toto.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: The final curtain drops on the King of Pop.

And what goes up comes down with a thud.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Because I yelled at him. I'm really sorry I yelled at him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: When ALL THE BEST, ALL THE WORST OF 2009, continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: The best news of the year in pop music...

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MICHAEL JACKSON, SINGER: I love you so much.

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FOREMAN: For many Michael Jackson fans was word that he was going on a final tour.

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JACKSON: This is really it.

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FOREMAN: The worst possible follow-up, his sudden death just before the music was to begin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you feeling?

JACKSON: Good. Great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOEL STEIN: What? Michael Jackson died?

GRAY: Michael Jackson died?

CHO: All my friends were calling me like, he's dead, he's dead. And I'm like, no, he's just at the hospital.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: The King of Pop was found unconscious at his California home and pronounced dead at UCLA Medical Center. Sparking around the clock tributes.

CALLOWAY: You try to send that economic boundaries, you have graphical boundaries, cultural boundaries, racial boundaries.

BROWN: I mean, for years, we've only heard about Jackson as this kind of debauched, wacky pedophile, you know, but what made Michael Jackson great was the music.

CALLOWAY: We really took for granted what we had with Michael Jackson. And I think we're all starting to feel it now that he's gone.

SANCHEZ: It's really funny, I was cleaning out my crawl space of my house and I found "The Thriller" album, until I figured that one out.

FOREMAN: Worst discovery, the coroner's ruling that Jackson died from a powerful combination of anti-anxiety drugs and sedatives.

BEN STEIN: It frightens me that stars have enough power to get pretty much any drug they want out of their druggist and their doctor.

FOREMAN: The long lead up to his funeral was surreal.

BEHAR: I thought it was overdone, the Michael Jackson story.

FOREMAN: The best moment.

I think America fell in love with Jackson's children at the end when they -- you saw them at the funeral.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine.

BROWN: Who didn't see him as a freak? Who didn't see him as this crazed pop culture figure? They saw him as daddy. And it was a very touching moment, I thought.

FOREMAN: Other acts reached out and touched folks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN STEIN: I don't know if you know this, but I became fairly famous by saying Bueller, Bueller, Bueller. And some kind person sitting next to me at a restaurant showed me a Kanye West rap video in which he says Bueller.

(VIDEO CLIP)

BEN STEIN: So that was my favorite thing in terms of music I heard this year.

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SANCHEZ: I liked Shakira this year.

(VIDEO CLIP)

GRAY: There's a new song by Pete Yorn, who actually collaborated with Scarlett Johansson and her breast in a new song called, "Relater." It's excellent.

(VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: But the best breakthrough performer of the year...

(VIDEO CLIP)

JOEL STEIN: This was the year of Lady Gaga, right, Anderson? You with me? Anderson is with me on this, I think.

CHO: I love Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga is kind of like Madonna's muppet baby. If there was a muppet baby version of Madonna, it would be Lady Gaga.

GRAY: Lady Gaga is the real deal. If you watch her, she can play the piano and she can sing, and she's a little -- I mean, she's quirky, she's eccentric.

LADY GAGA, SINGER: Are you listening?

BROWN: She writes her own songs. She's incredibly creative. She's still mysterious. CALLOWAY: If you go to a Lady Gaga concert, you buy a ticket, you're going to get your money's worth, Tom.

FOREMAN: Best unexpected challenger for the crown -- Britain's Susan Boyle.

(VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Plenty of people bought her music even if some didn't buy her act.

BEHAR: We only hear her sing the same song over and over again, you know. I want to hear Susan Boyle sing "Funky Town," and then I'll see if she has talent.

The movie business had big money magic with "Transformers," "Harry Potter", and "Up."

CALLOWAY: I think to me "Twilight" is the big story in movie news this week.

FOREMAN: But scads of ticket buyers were otherwise wondering where the talent was.

GRAY: I thought 2009 was a terrible year for movies. I had high hopes for "Paranormal Activity."

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GRAY: Which was billed as the new "Blair Witch Project," but it was just awful.

(VIDEO CLIP)

GRAY: And beyond that, I saw "Couple's Retreat."

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GRAY: Which was a nightmare and a half.

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SANCHEZ: I really enjoyed "The September Issue."

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: I hated "Funny People." Hated that movie. It was two movies too long. Four of them starring Adam Sandler.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: Oh, "District 9," that's a great movie. (VIDEO CLIP)

BEN STEIN: I can't think of any movies I have seen that I liked this year.

(VIDEO CLIP)

JOEL STEIN: It seemed like a good year for kid movies. There was "Cloudy with a Chance for Meatballs," which was great.

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JOEL STEIN: "Fantastic Mr. Fox," and "Where the Wild Things Are."

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JOEL STEIN: Seems like if you were a kid, tremendous year for films. Or just an adult with a low intellect.

FOREMAN: Television saw a few hellos...

(VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: ...a few good-byes.

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FOREMAN: And a lot of favorites hanging around for more.

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SANCHEZ: I think things like "House" and "Criminal Minds." But I'm pro-FBI.

JOEL STEIN: "Any Modern Family" is really funny.

BEHAR: "Mad Men" I love.

JOEL STEIN: "The Office" is still really good.

CALLOWAY: I'm going to be honest with you, Tom. I'm a "Gossip Girl" fan.

(VIDEO CLIP)

BEN STEIN: I don't really watch as much TV as I probably should. As a good American, I probably should watch more TV than I do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: But the best staying power, that goes to the unreal world of reality television, still going strong.

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CHO: I love the return of "Project Runway," which is my favorite.

GRAY: My TV viewing habits begin and end with the word Kardashian, preferably Chloe.

BEHAR: I think people just like to watch shows that make them feel good about their own lives. People like to see that. They look over at their drunken husbands and say, hey, he's not so bad.

FOREMAN: Worst case of a supporting cast member not being very supporting. Jon of "Jon and Kate Plus Eight," the marriage hit the rocks, he hit the dating circuit and hit the roof, too. Saying "no mas" to cameras in the kitchen.

CHO: I saw him the other day. I was walking on the street and I saw him. And I immediately started laughing, and I feel bad about that because he's a human being.

FOREMAN: Give the best walkout to the queen of daytime. Oprah announces she'll do her last show in 2011, stunning millions.

(VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: To walk away from those big paychecks, it's amazing.

FOREMAN: Amazing was the word that many people were using to describe the American political scene as the year began with a new, young president promising to change politics as we know it.

Of course, that was before he ran into the town halls, the talk- back. And the tea party express.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The DNA of America is liberty and freedom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: No wonder Hillary Clinton is smiling. She knows what's coming up on ALL THE BEST, ALL THE WORST 2009.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Randi Kaye. More of the BEST AND WORST OF 2009 in a moment.

Now in the news. Vatican security caught a woman trying to touch Pope Benedict. As he made his way down the aisle during Christmas Eve mass. The pope fell, the woman was detained.

Back home, millions are heading into a White Christmas, singing in winter weather blues. There's a live picture of Kansas City for you tonight. Details from our severe center, Chad Myers.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Randi, it's an absolute mess out in the central plains with blizzard conditions, winds 40 to 60 miles per hour all the way from the Dakotas down into Texas. I-20 has been closed for a while. West of Dallas, Forth Worth with blowing and drifting snow. And the snow continues into Oklahoma City, and then severe weather on the south side of the storm with the potential for some small tornadoes in the overnight hours tonight and into tomorrow.

Finally, though, by Friday, the weather moves up to the east coast, a little bit of an icy mix for parts of the northeast, but the snow continues in the north plains.

Randi?

KAYE: Thank you, Chad. And the first family spending Christmas in Hawaii. They and the president leaving Washington right after Senate Democrats passed health care reform. That's it for now. Another update in about 30 minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: A couple of years ago, almost no one would have expected a little known senator from Illinois to become president, but if Barack Obama anticipated the political storm waiting for him, he might not have taken the job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: The inauguration was cold, but the politics heated up fast.

With two wars raging, the economy in chaos, and no sign of the bipartisan cooperation the president promised.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Whether he was a Republican or a Democrat, anybody walking in his shoes was going to have a hard time.

CALLOWAY: You know he's walked into a job that has a lot of complexities. And, you know, you got to deal with a lot of variables in order to make change happen.

BEHAR: The Republicans hate it when we keep bring it up that it was Bush's fault, but it was Bush's fault.

CHO: There was so much enthusiasm and excitement about Obama taken over. And everybody thought that everything would change overnight.

JOEL STEIN: I don't think we ever define the destiny of change that well, right? We just wanted things to be like, awesome.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Worst lack of awesomeness. The battle over health care reform. It was the president's signature issue, but the attacks came early and often. The worst cheap shot --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.

REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Goes to Republican Congressman Joe Wilson. But Democrats got angry, too, splitting as they debated coverage for abortions, illegal immigrant immigrants, and the ever present worry about cost.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This government is out of control.

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FOREMAN: The best political theater...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're a socialist, fascist pig.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Those town hall meetings where insults were traded like baseball cards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't trust me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On what planet do you spent most of your time?

SANCHEZ: As much as the president tried to make a case that really health care is such a big part of the economy, families do not see it that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Best bus tour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The DNA of America is liberty and freedom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: The tea partiers caught top Democrats and Republicans off guard by pulling big crowds coast to coast.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOEL STEIN: You know, I'm a huge tea drinker, and these tea parties lacked a lot of tea.

BROWN: I think the tea parties were really against being marginalized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They will eat away our freedom.

BROWN: Some people were against taxes, some people were pro- life. Some people were going on about health care. There really wasn't a unified theme except the sense of having been dissed.

BEHAR: There's this always an angry group of people in every country, though. It's just that they get a lot of press because they're more entertaining than, you know, watching Joe Biden rearrange his hair or something. You know what I mean?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: It's possible the best last laugh will go to the president, however, despite setbacks, his health care bill, all 2000 pages, is still on the table.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN STEIN: I imagine the health care bill in one form or another will pass, and there will be government control over a huge amount of health provision, and that scares me to death. I do not want some government bureaucrats telling me what kind of health care I can get.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Best pick by the president. Sonya Sotomayor, the first Latina on the Supreme Court.

Worst photo op. You could get an Air Force One buzzing New York, or the beer summit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The Cambridge police acted stupidly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: But the award goes to the party crashers. Never have two people looked so good making White House security look so bad.

It proved a remarkably good year for other political players. Best power couple, returning champions Hillary and Bill Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Hillary Clinton looks like a rock star, very bipartisan looking, very pro-American, and very high marks in both Republicans and Democrats. (END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: And he played a pivotal role in getting those two journalists released from North Korea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We expressed our deepest gratitude to President Clinton.

FOREMAN: She says she won't run for president again. But --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK GRAY, AC360 PRODUCER/WRITER: Anyone who thinks Hillary Clinton doesn't want to be president is full of crap. Anybody who thinks she's happy there down at the State Department is insane.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: On the Republican side, worst retreat? Sarah Palin's resignation from the governorship of Alaska.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOY BEHAR, TV TALK SHOW HOST: She quit. She quit Alaska. She said, bye, bye Alaska.

SARA PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: I'm certainly not a quitter. I'm a fighter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Best counterattack. Palin again "Going Rogue" with a best-selling book. Facts, who needs them?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARGARET CHO, COMEDIAN/ACTRESS: It's really brilliant, because she invigorated the Republican Party in a way that I've never seen ever. I mean, it was like this revolution.

TINA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER/EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: It was a great, visceral vitality about Sarah Palin.

JOEL STEIN, COLUMNIST, L.A. TIMES: I think she's just an amazing populist.

GRAY: From a purely TV standpoint, Sarah Palin is gold because she just says whatever she wants to say, and then winds up blaming the liberal media.

STEIN: And she's a dynamic, exciting woman, but as president where life and death decisions, her entire world are involved, I would be quite frightened of having her there. But I have to tell you, frankly, I'm frightened of having Mr. Obama there, too. FOREMAN: As to family members, worst almost-in-law, Levi Johnston who fathered a Palin grandchild, then dropped his Levis in the pages of "Playgirl."

GRAY: Yes, Levi, let it all hang out Johnston. I think -- I mean, he's a genius. I have to say he's a genius.

FOREMAN: Worst bad girl, Megan McCain who posted a late-night photo of herself online, but she gets the best response to critics, too, saying, "I've always embraced my curves and will continue to do so."

BROWN: One of the things that is so curious in the way about today's connective culture is that people put pictures of themselves, you know, throwing around their arms in the air with a drink or whatever and then resent the reaction.

FOREMAN: The best family portrait. The Obamas. Michelle...

CALLOWAY: About that, she's stunning.

FOREMAN: And the girls looked cool no matter how much hot water dad was in.

SANCHEZ: It's a great family, to see them experiencing things in that way. It was a very strong, positive image for this country. That's something I think that all of us can appreciate.

FOREMAN: Well...

BEHAR: I can't get that excited about a woman's arms. I mean, I know the country was just in love with her arms, and she's a lovely person. I have met her. She's very nice.

FOREMAN: For all the ups and downs, the president came up with one sure winner -- the Nobel Prize. The political surprise of the year.

STEIN: That must have been a weird day for him, right? He keeps getting stuff even though he's not doing stuff, he keeps getting stuff.

BROWN: He knew perfectly well that he did not need another empty prize with nothing behind it.

BEN STEIN: Look, he's a capable, smart fellow, but he's got a lot to learn.

CALLOWAY: But I also feel like it's too soon to tell.

CHO: I just thought, you know, why not?

FOREMAN: Beyond the world of politics, it seemed like a lot of people were asking why not this year. And that put plenty of folks on thin ice by the time winter rolled around.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: We did this for the show.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Why not launch a balloon and say your boy is onboard?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KANYE WEST, SINGER: I'm really happy for you. I'm going to let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Why not announce your own winner at the award show? Why not hike the Appalachian Trail? Why not play to win? Why not stick around for more of ALL THE BEST, ALL THE WORST OF 2009"?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: The world of big news stories rumbled in 2009 from the saber rattling of Kim Jong-Il to the fist shaking of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iranian protestors ran beneath the banner of a young woman. The Pan-Am terrorists walked free. Iraq and Afghanistan heard plans for American troop build-ups and pull-outs even as the military community dealt with tragedy close to home and concern for the growing number of veterans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CALLOWAY: I think we owe it to them, absolutely owe it to them to take care of them when they come back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Yet for many Americans, the biggest worry was a tiny bug. Worst virus, the H1N1 swine flu had everyone on the run. It was less deadly than fear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOEL STEIN: I don't want to come off as pro-pandemic, but I feel like I can cheat it. Like when is it coming?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: The vaccine was also much harder to find than federal officials predicted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: If you see swine flu was a kind of laboratory to what the government if it is really a serious story, you got a terrible picture of a government unable to cope.

CALLOWAY: It's one of those things that if you say, I don't want to come in today, and your boss is like, why? You can easily say, well, I got swine flu, and then you're excused. I think swine flu became the biggest excuse not to go to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: On the other hand --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN STEIN: I do think that there's concern that the vaccine has some kind of government trick or a government mind control to wreck people's lives. That's just really silly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Airplanes had their share of serious troubles including the air transjet that disappeared over the Atlantic. But there were also some quirky incidents, worst navigation. The pilots who flew from San Diego to Minneapolis, and just kept flying, overshooting their target by 150 miles before turning back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got distracted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Best improvisation, the miracle on the Hudson. One plane, a flock of geese, and a mind-blowing emergency landing in the river by Captain Sully Sullenberger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAY: Sully was great. He was right out of central casting. He was like the Clint Eastwood of airline pilots. I can just imagine him up in the cockpit, knowing the geese hit the engines, and he's like, not on my watch.

BEHAR: I don't know if he was really lauded because he was able to land on the Hudson River, or he just got a great parking spot in New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Gay marriage supporters saw two more states allow same sex weddings, but several other votes ran against their cause.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN STEIN: I think if gay people want to get married, more power to them, but I think it should be a state matter.

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FOREMAN: Beauty queen Carrie Prejean spoke up against same-sex marriage, but ended up out of her crown and out of her gown, too, as rumors of sexy videotape swirled out of her past.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: I think that she -- she really is proof that looks are not everything.

JOEL STEIN: And did anyone see her sex tape? I don't think she had sex. Like it's just tease, tease, tease with her. I need more -- I needed a more or less Carrie Prejean. But this level of Carrie Prejean, no thanks.

GRAY: And then she goes on Larry King and tries to walk off.

CARRIE PREJEAN, FORMER BEAUTY QUEEN: Larry, you're being inappropriate.

BEHAR: Larry was like, what do you mean? I'm inappropriate? He should have said to her, eight sex tapes. That's inappropriate.

SANCHEZ: She's somebody who stood for strong Christian conservative values, but someone that can get laughed at I think and oversimplified when you appear on different types of shows that don't really understand what you're talking about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: It turned out to be a terrible year for relationships in the news. Worst boyfriend, R&B singer Chris Brown who beat up his pop star girlfriend Rihanna on Grammy nights, no less.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: I'm so mad at Chris Brown. I'm still mad about it. And I'm glad they're not together. I was so furious about that.

GRAY: I mean, you can't go around beating up women.

CHO: And I think that it sends a terrible message to young men out there.

GRAY: You're voted off the island.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Best handling of a bad situation. David Letterman admitted sex with staff members after an alleged extrusion attempt. Many fans were disappointed, but others gave him props for coming clean.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: I thought the way that he handled that whole sex scandal was so classy, such an elegant, just perfect way to handle something that could potentially be really ugly.

SANCHEZ: But the reason that he went forward was because of the extortion. That he knew that it was going to go public. That's not exactly a sincere effort to kind of, you know, show you my transgressions.

BEN STEIN: The women who were involved with him did it. Totally consensual. He didn't do anything wrong.

FOREMAN: Worst excuse for inexcusable behavior. He was "hiking the Appalachian Trail." That was one explanation for the disappearance of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who was actually off to Argentina to see his mistress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOEL STEIN: Look, married men can go missing for about eight minutes before they need a very, very good excuse when coming home. So, yes, once you pass like a four-hour mark, you're very, very missing as a husband.

GRAY: You can imagine that call. His staff, you know, "how was the hike"? "Oh, it was so good. Oh, I hiked twice. I haven't hiked twice since college." Amazing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: So were his repeated attempts to explain himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Each time he opened his mouth, it just made it worse. And he made his wife even madder.

BEN STEIN: It's just unimaginable. I don't know what he was thinking.

SANCHEZ: It was incredibly difficult to watch. But the worst part of that is he kept feeding into that story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: But absolutely the worst drive into the rough, Tiger Woods. His late-night car crash was just the beginning of a hard road of revelations.

Best coverage of the Tiger trapped, Taiwanese television.

Best crime news, the surprising rescue of Jaycee Dugard 18 years after she was kidnapped.

Worst -- there are too many to choose from. Shootings, robberies, fires all coming in steady supply all year long.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: So we've never stopped, we've never stop being in a state of emergency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Best and worst persistent problem, returning champions for the third year in a row. It's the pirates. Aside from that one great Navy rescue and a recent defeat on one ship loaded with security, they kept hanging in there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: I love the pirates. Every time the pirates emerge, I'm grateful. It seems they are the most amazingly colorful, amazingly incomprehensible sort of trend that we can't seem to lick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Some things this year truly had to be seen to be believed. Coming up, the moments that defied explanation and sometimes just made us want to run and hide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CALLOWAY: Let's just go, Tom. Carl Anderson, hit him on the BlackBerry. Let's just go to the Bahamas, though.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: When 360's ALL THE BEST, ALL THE WORST OF 2009 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'M RANDI KAYE. CNN's The Best and Worst of 2009 returns in a moment. Now on the news.

Home for the holidays. David Goldman and his son, Sean, are back in the U.S. tonight. A plane chartered by NBC carried them from Brazil to Orlando tonight. A Brazilian court awarded Goldman custody of the nine-year-old, ending a five-year legal battle. A friend of the Goldmans told CNN they will spend the next two days at Disney world.

A Christmas Eve of extreme weather for many Americans. A massive storm sweeping across the central U.S., bringing blizzard conditions, thunderstorms, and tornado watches. A state of emergency has been declared in Oklahoma.

At the Vatican, a scare for Pope Benedict XVI. It happened during Christmas Eve mass when the pope fell after a woman tried to grab him. He was OK and resumed the service.

Those are some of the stories now in the news. I'm Randi Kaye. The Best and Worst of 2009 returns after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) FOREMAN: Even in this peculiar year when so many things did not go as we expected or hoped, some stories stood out as almost unbelievable. And one absolutely rose above the rest.

Best use of a giant inflatable spaceship to fool us all. Balloon boy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOEL STEIN: Oh my God. You could strip away every other news story. Take away our first black president, take away Michael Jackson dying. Leave me with balloon boy, and I'm happy. That's all I needed from this year.

CALLOWAY: I thought it was stupid, Tom. I'll just be honest with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: For hours, America watched spellbound by the story of a run-away balloon in Colorado with a six-year-old boy inside. When it finally landed...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEHAR: Everybody was waiting for him to be on the balloon, to land, and then he would walk out of the balloon and say, hi, everybody, but no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: It turns out he had been hiding in the family garage all along as part of an ill-conceived plot for the family to get a reality TV show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Sometimes a story comes along and it just exists to dramatize how oddly crazed our celebrity culture has become. And balloon boy was really sent to show us how stupid we are all.

BEN STEIN: Well, the parents to me, and it's just an opinion, I'm not a psychiatrist, parents are clearly insane. There's way too much attention given to insane people.

SANCHEZ: You come to find out that the family just really wanted media exposure. It was really a sad day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD: Kanye.

FOREMAN: Back on earth, the often out-of-control Kanye West gets the worst entrance award for jumping on stage during Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the Video Music Awards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEST: I'm really happy for you. I'm going to let you finish. But Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.

GRAY: Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift was like kicking a puppy. It was awful.

SANCHEZ: I thought it was in bad taste, bad form and bad style.

CHO: I feel sorry for Taylor Swift. I think she's a wonderful kid.

BEN STEIN: You know, I don't know what all the upset was about. He was clearly a little bit inebriated. And he wound up there. I mean, he didn't hurt anybody. He scared the young girl a tiny bit, but he didn't hurt anybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Maybe he even helped. Best take two, Taylor Swift named Entertainer of the Year at the Country Music Awards. With only her band rushing the stage this time.

In the world of sports, the best were easy to see. The Super Bowl went to The Steelers. The basketball trophy to The Lakers. The Stanley Cup to The Penguins. And the World Series to The Yankees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN STEIN: I'm a Yankees fan. And I was happy to see The Yankees win.

GRAY: I'm a Red Sox fan so the World Series did not interest me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: And the worst were hard to ignore. Worst football. Serena Williams at the U.S. open.

The call looked good. Her very bad reaction got her booted from the tournament.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Amazing.

SERENA WILLIAMS, TENNIS PLAYER: I was like, wait a minute. But then I had misheard. She had never said that. So that was just something -- I was like, whoa. Because I was like, wait a minute, because I'm not that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Worst flashback. Andre Agassi and the crystal meth revelation. Worst action shot, Olympic champion Michael Phelps using a bong. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEHAR: Oh, please. Leave him alone. The guy swims. He wins the gold medal, and he smokes a joint and they are all over him. You swim. Let's see how well you can do it without any pot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Worst poke in the eye. University of Florida's Brandon Spikes. Worst soccer punch, Oregon's LaGarrette Blount. But overall, worst sportsmanship of the year, you've got to give it to New Mexico's Elizabeth Lambert in the game against BYU. If not for the elbows and illegal tackles, at least for the ponytail head snap heard around the Internet world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAY: She will have her own reality show for sure. I'm sure. Very soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: The Internet produced some remarkable moments.

(VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Best tribute to Michael Jackson, Yale Student Sam *, seven times over.

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FOREMAN: Best improvement on the Teletubbies, Beyonce and the dancing baby.

(VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOEL STEIN: That's all you can get in the Internet moments. Like, that was kind of amusing. That baby dance with Beyonce.

BEN STEIN: Here's what I discovered at the Internet this year. It's called eBay, and I love eBay. And I often find myself staying up way past my bedtime going on eBay and buying things. And then when they arrive, I don't even remember I ordered them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Best thing in 140 characters or less -- Twitter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAY: Twitter is perfect for people like me who feel that the phone and e-mail and traditional forms of communication are wasting -- or just a waste of time that could otherwise be spent watching "Judge Judy." CALLOWAY: In 2010, I'm going to get my Titter game up to par. I just find it like unusual.

BEHAR: It connects you with people. Listen, as long as they are not coming to my house, what do I care?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Best new word -- defriend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: But you know what's really punk rock? Calling people. That is the new punk rock. Calling people on the phone. I've been doing that lately. And it really blows everyone away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: So best upgrade to old tech, all the new cell phone applications. Was anything better?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CALLOWAY: Honestly, I want to text you a message right now to answer that quick. Can I text you the answer?

BROWN: This is the year I truly fell in love with my BlackBerry.

BEHAR: I love this thing.

BEN STEIN: I have a phone from Verizon. And this phone can do everything except make pancakes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Best breakthrough marriage of tech and tradition. E- books. The Kindle, The Nook and all the rest finally came into their own despite the skeptics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: Oh, the kindle is genius.

BROWN: What's interesting is that I think people are reading Kindle are reading more.

JOEL STEIN: How many books did you read that you need electronic books? I read about 1-1/2 books a year. I can carry them around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: And we've carried around the weight of this year long enough. It's time to shove it aside and turn to our projections for the next 12 months. Stay put. ALL THE BEST, ALL THE WORST will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: President Obama and so many Americans were looking for change this year. And despite all the setbacks and difficulties, change did come. Maybe not quite the way we wanted it, but for that, there's always next year. And in that spirit, we asked our guests to give us their best hopes and wishes for 2010.

BEHAR: My hope for 2010 is to be alive.

BEN STEIN: I would just like to say that I hope everyone will spend the year being really, really good to their animals because dogs and cats, especially dogs, are our best friends.

CALLOWAY: In regards to the wars, I know they won't end in a year's time. But I certainly hope that we can work towards finding a resolution so we can bring our young Americans home and thank them for their efforts they put to protect our way of life.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We begin our journey here in Central Africa.

GRAY: I hope to still be in the employ of Anderson Cooper and his steely blue eyes.

BROWN: My wish is that the president gets his mojo back. Give us back the Barack on the campaign trail. Please seize the moment, Barack. Do something to make us proud.

SANCHEZ: My hope for America is that all those individuals looking for jobs can continue to find them.

JOEL STEIN: And not one in China. Like a real job.

CHO: My wish for America in 2010 is that everybody gets what they want. And if they don't, at least that they get enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: And with that, thanks for joining us. I'm Tom Foreman. For everyone at "360," we hope you keep your job, keep your patience and keep your spirits up through a happy New Year.