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(mark j. terrill/associated press)

We knew Keith Olbermann was a fan of lists. And since the popular nighttime MSNBC anchor -- a former ESPN host and WCVB sportscaster -- was going to be in Boston last night to speak at an American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts banquet, we asked him to give us five quick answers.

Q Best president?

A Lincoln. Can't argue with turning the catastrophe of Civil War into the emancipation of the slaves. Although I think James Polk is terribly underrated -- took the chance on California, managed to enrage the leaders of all the political parties.

Q Best member of the Red Sox?

A Current: Terry Francona. Sitting in the dugout with him during an exhibition game this year taught me about 25 percent more baseball than I knew, and his light touch running the club was a delight to watch. Best of all time? Johnny Pesky. Anybody who could still be working for the same organization 43 years after losing the manager's job is doing something right. Plus 10 years ago he ended an interview with me by giving a very warm handshake, which he promptly turned into a 'soul shake.' I am still in awe. I will confess I have a certain wistful regard for Jim Willoughby, who is, to my knowledge, still under the stands somewhere waiting for Darrell Johnson to tell him he's kidding and he really isn't taking him out so Jim Burton can pitch the ninth inning of Game 7 of the '75 Series.

Q Best US foreign intervention?

A Afghanistan. One can argue that World War I qualifies -- only our shipping was attacked, not the nation per se. But for pure justified bona fide 'world's policeman' work, going after the Taliban was inarguable. And incomplete.

Q Best recent movie or book?

A I loved 'The Echoing Green' by Josh Prager, a microscopic workup of the 1951 National League pennant race. 'Gettysburg Gospel' by Gabor Boritt is the same kind of writing: a specific event, researched to death, so detailed as to transport you to the time and place. Great written history should approach time travel; these do.

Q Best guess on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees in 2008?

A Al Gore and Mitt Romney. I think the far right will eventually recoil from [Rudolph] Giuliani and pick Romney because he looks like a president and sounds like a Bing Crosby record. And I think Gore can have the nomination for the asking.

Q Bonus question: Odds Gore will win the Nobel Peace Prize?

A 3 to 1 that he'll win it. But the odds it will go to somebody else on a recount are 3 to 2.

DAVID BEARD

Morgan discusses alcohol troubles
When Tracy Morgan (inset) hosts Spike TV's "Guys Choice" awards June 13, he'll be wearing an alcohol monitoring device around his ankle. The comedian and "30 Rock" co star has recently experienced several alcohol-related troubles but said in an interview that he's trying to "keep moving forward." In February, Morgan, 38, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drunken driving charges in New York. He previously pleaded no contest to a DUI charge in Los Angeles. As part of his court-ordered treatment, Morgan was recently fitted with the monitoring device, which he'll wear for two months. Of his drunk driving, he said: "It happened. Unfortunately, it happened. I'm not perfect. I'm like anyone else. Driving under the influence isn't cool. I have kids, and I don't want anyone to get the wrong message about that. It's something I've resolved in my life. Things got a little bumpy, and it was taken care of." (AP)

'Idol' champ Sparks praises Sanjaya
Until now, when asked her favorite male singers, Jordin Sparks, 17, topped the list with John Mayer and Justin Timberlake. But the effervescent new "American Idol" champ said she's got another name to add: Sanjaya Malakar, another "Idol" contestant who transformed from a shy guy to a media star in a span of weeks. "He had so much guts," said Sparks. "He got a lot of criticism, but for him to go out on that stage and hold his head high . . . I really look up to him for that." (AP)

Hasselhoff's ex-wife pleads not guilty
David Hasselhoff's ex-wife, Pamela Bach, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor hit-and-run charge stemming from a fender-bender in North Hollywood. Her attorney Peter Knecht said a "civil compromise" was being worked out and expected the charge to be dismissed. He said Bach, 43, backed into a car Jan. 22, and after inspecting both cars, left when she didn't see any damage. (AP)

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