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NBC's Todd Calls Liberal Senators Lieberman and Sanders Ideological 'Polar Opposites'

Only in the mind of a liberal media journalist would Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Sen. Bernie Sanders be considered ideological "polar opposites," but that's what NBC's Chuck Todd, during a piece aired on the health care debate on Tuesday's Today show, declared.

CHUCK TODD: Meanwhile, the Senate's two Democratic independents, polar opposites ideologically, are split over the bill's government-run public option and both are threatening to scuttle the process if they don't get their way.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: If the public option plan is in there as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: It would be outrageous to me that when you have an overwhelming majority of Americans wanting a strong public option that we do not deliver that.

While the two may be split on a government-run option, that's just one of the very rare times the two disagree as Lieberman's lifetime ACU rating is 15.96 and Sanders comes in at 6.44, hardly "polar opposites."

The following is the complete Todd piece, that featured mostly Democratic soundbites (only a brief excerpt of a GOP ad represented the Republican view) as it was aired on the November 10, Today show:

ANN CURRY: And now to the raging debate in Washington over health care reform. Former President Bill Clinton plans to visit Capitol Hill today with the Senate set to begin its debate. This as the current administration lobbies hard for every vote. NBC's chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd joins us now with the latest on this. Chuck, good morning.

[On screen headline: "Brewing Battle, Health Care Heads For Senate Showdown"]

CHUCK TODD: Good morning, Ann. Well with 58 Democrats and two independents that vote with them, the numbers in the Senate should favor the Democrats. They have, on paper, a filibuster-proof majority. But getting health care reform passed at all, let alone this year, is going to be a real challenge for this White House.

BARACK OBAMA: If there's not a deadline in Washington, nothing happens.

TODD: But it's a deadline that's been a moving target when it comes to health care.

OBAMA: I want it done by the fall.

REP. NANCY PELOSI: Before we leave for the August recess.

OBAMA: Before the August recess.

TODD: And while Congress has yet to meet a single initial deadline, progress has been made. The House did finally pass their version of health care last weekend, three months after Speaker Pelosi's initial deadline. Now attention turns to the Senate, and despite the history of Congress missing numerous deadlines, the White House Monday was emphatic-

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I just answered this three times!

TODD: -if not a tad defensive, that this one would stick.

GIBBS: The President wants to sign health care before the end of the year.

TODD: Despite the White House insistence, senators privately say a final bill may not reach the President's desk 'til next year.

SEN. KENT CONRAD: That's very challenging. Could it be done? Yes, but all of the stars would have to be in alignment.

TODD: And with the clock ticking, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is working hard behind the scenes to convince some wavering Democrats. Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, who is up for re-election next year, is someone the Republican Party wants to make a poster child of the health care debate. The GOP launched a preemptive strike before she cast a single vote.

(Begin ad clip)

ANNOUNCER: I voted for government-run health care for my party boss before I voted against it to save my job.

(End clip)

TODD: Lincoln and other Senate Democratic moderates could end up controlling this debate.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL: I think that's what you're gonna see being really pushed by, by the middle of the Senate that is gonna be the one that crafts the compromises.

TODD: Meanwhile, the Senate's two Democratic independents, polar opposites ideologically, are split over the bill's government-run public option and both are threatening to scuttle the process if they don't get their way.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: If the public option plan is in there as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: It would be outrageous to me that when you have an overwhelming majority of Americans wanting a strong public option that we do not deliver that.

TODD: Now more on that Bill Clinton meeting with Senate Democrats. He's going there this afternoon. What's interesting is of the three wavering Democrats - Ben Nelson from Nebraska, Blanche Lincoln from Arkansas, and Joe Lieberman from Connecticut - the former president has a personal connection, and in particular with Blanche Lincoln, coming from his home state. What he says in that meeting could have a lot of influence on how she votes.

-Geoffrey Dickens is the senior news analyst at the Media Research Center.