He sweats. He screeches. He picks stocks. And Jim Cramer, CNBC's newest star, may just be making investing fun again.
Lou Dobbs he ain’t.

CNBC’s Jim Cramer rants. He raves. He paces around a TV set that’s been made to look like a radio studio. He sweats profusely. He rolls up his sleeves in bunches so tight they look like a pair of tourniquets. He spits occasionally. He screeches constantly. He takes phone calls from viewers watching him on his CNBC show, Mad Money, urging them to buy stocks he likes and “Sell! Sell! Sell!” those he hates. He shouts questions to those cal­lers, such as, “What are you, out of your mind?” And he fires off stream-of-­consciousness statements like, “I’m not afraid of the stock ­market” and “Not all dogs have fleas.” He’s also managed to appropriate ESPN anchor Stuart Scott’s catchphrase “Booyah!” and make it his own.

So, sure, maybe CNN’s Lou Dobbs has everything you’d want in a typical business newscaster — he has an excellent grasp of financial subject matter, a commanding onscreen presence, and he looks mighty fine in a pin-striped suit. But you’re never going to compare Dobbs to Dick Vitale, the high-octane goofball who is ESPN’s top college-basketball analyst. In fact, high-octane and goofball are not terms that typically come to mind when describing business journalists. But Jim Cramer, as noted, is not typical. He is, however, a goofball. And Cramer’s bald head, manic on-screen presence, and penchant for shouting with enthusiasm about the ups and downs of the stock market make him stunningly Vitale-esque.

Mad Money isn’t typical of business-news programs, either. In fact, the show is so unusual, it almost doesn’t even qualify as a ­financial-news program. Mad Money moves so fast at times — during his “lightning round” segment, Cramer may run through three dozen stocks in just a few minutes, urging viewers to buy or sell, with little explanation as to why — it makes you wonder whether CNBC really expects viewers to glean anything useful from Cramer’s manic oscillation, or whether the show is intended purely as wacky entertainment.