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Er, so long?

MSNBC announced without fanfare Friday that tonight will be Keith Olbermann's last Countdown.

Well, actually Olbermann announced it in the final moments of his final telecast, but MSNBC then jumped in to explain. Sort of.

"MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract," the network said in a statement. "The last broadcast of Countdown with Keith Olbermann will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors."

While a personality leaving a show upon the end of his deal isn't mysterious in and of itself, Olbermann's farewell to his colleagues and viewers didn't sound as if he had much choice in the matter.

"I think the same fantasy has popped into the head of everybody in my business who has ever been told what I've been told, that this is going to be the last edition of your show," he began, in the same intense, verbose manner in which he's been hosting Countdown for nearly eight years.

"You go directly to the scene from the movie Network, complete with the pajamas and the raincoat, and you go off on an existential, otherworldly journey of unutterable profundity and vision, you damn the impediments and you insist upon the insurrections, and then you emit Peter Finch's guttural, resonant, 'So,' and you implore the viewer to go to the window, open it, stick out his head and yell...well, you know the rest."

Olbermann was referring, of course, to the famous "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" scene in the 1976 film.

"In the mundane world of television goodbyes," he continued, "reality is laughably uncooperative." He went on to recall how his ESPN farewell 13 years ago was shortened from a generous 30 seconds to a mere 15.

But Olbermann has sounded mad as hell for years, so a Network homage wasn't necessary.

The almost 52-year-old anchor had been chugging along relatively uneventfully, minus his heated nightly forays into the bowels of politics and current events, until he was suspended for all of two days in November for making contributions to three Democratic congressional candidates' coffers without MSNBC's knowledge.

A course of action that Olbermann duly denigrated in an open letter to fans.

Who knows how they really got from A to B, but The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell is taking over Countdown's plum 8 p.m. slot starting Monday.