Lawrence O'Donnell talks to Levi Johnston on 'Last Word.' We're listening.

Lawrence O’Donnell has spent enough time in Hollywood — exec producing West Wing and acting on Big Love — to know the importance of a big opening. And that’s exactly what he’s given his new MSNBC show, The Last Word, airing at 10 p.m., after The Rachel Maddow Show. For his debut episode on Monday, O’Donnell scored no less a get than Vice President Joe Biden (sadly, it was a rare gaffe-free interview). Then, on Tuesday, O’Donnell went even larger. He talked to the possible future mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Levi Johnston, asking him exactly the same questions Katie Couric put to Johnston’s ex-future-mother-in-law, Sarah Palin, during the 2008 campaign. (See the video embedded below.) It was an awkward segment — Johnston whiffed on the question about evolution, although he did name one newspaper he read — but it sure made for amusing TV. And it sure beat sitting through yet another cycle of ideological banter with the usual MSNBC talking heads (Chris Hayes, Richard Wolffe, Jonathan Alter….).

Of course, O’Donnell used to be one of those heads — he’s been a frequent guest and contributor on shows like Countdown since the start of MSNBC back in 1996 (before that, he was chief of staff to Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan). But he seems like a natural behind his own desk, in charge of his own show. I don’t know about you, Popwatchers, but I’m thinking of making The Last Word a regular part of my nightly left-wing brainwash and rinse. Have you guys seen the show yet? Any opinions?

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  • Don’t Whine About The Oscars Missing Dead Celebs

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  • MJ

    Point well taken that Levi Johnston probably shouldn’t be running for Wasilla dog catcher let alone mayor until he gets his GED and starts reading some newspapers. But to be fair, he’s only running for mayor of Wasilla so it’s really not imperative that Levi to be up to speed on geopolitical affairs. O’Donnell should have asked Levi about trailer park lot fees and meth labs.

    • ken

      At least he is honest. I already like him much more than his ex-mother in law. The GED is optional IMHO. One of the smartest guys I ever knew only had a 3rd grade education.

  • Mark Hurst

    So Lawrence O’Donnell pulled out all of his vast store of skills and slayed the threatening dragon, Levi Johnson. He must be so proud! As a liberal and a political junkie, I found O’Donnell’s program to be a crashing waste of time. True, Johnson is dumb as an ox, but why does he have to be skewered and roasted because he’s running for the mayor of Wasilla? Two years ago, no one had ever HEARD of Wasilla. Now we’re asking their mayoral candidates questions about Afghan troop strength and global warming? That was nothing short of bullying. O’Donnell, what a FLOP. Don’t bother to tune in again…I won’t.

  • Kris

    I only know O’Donnell from his MSNBC exposure; however, I have long wished that he be given his own show. I am glad to see it is up to the standards that I had hoped and expected. I will be a regular viewer. He seems serious (I sometimes (rarely) need to turn off Maddow, once the “voices” and props come out); he is knowledgeable, yet does not show-boat (like some), and he can be angry without being smarmy (like some)- through it all, he projects an overall vibe of honesty. A very good mix of traits.

  • sylvia bruton

    Levi won because he gave honest answers.

  • ZKM

    I’m a political junkie and I watch MSNBC all the time. Been looking forward to The Last Word I’m not disappointed but want less of the celebrity Hollywood format, I.e. Bristol Palin.

  • winnie wolf

    Clearly Levi was the winner. Why? because he gave you honest answers. He didnt make up stuff. Lawrence, I like the Last Word.

  • KAS

    Great show! Hey kids, jokes on the 45 year old governer running for national office pretending to be competent, not the kid running for small town mayor who didn’t hesitate to acknowledge his “limitations.” :-) So funny! Besides, small town government requires commitment, knowledge of the local community/needs, and the ability to learn. Loved the show; we’ll be sticking around to watch.

  • James

    Why would anyone keep talking to this moran. He needs to get a life, a job plus at least a high school diploma and stop living like a leech off a family of fame and fortune. Eventually he will dig his own grave and jump in hopefully. Sarah Palin put the “way up North” state on the map. Now someone like this guy is trying to make Alaskans look like idiots. What a shame. Hopefully Bristol realizes now she is a woman who can get any professional educated man for she, like her mother is a beautiful woman.

    • Jim Johnson

      LOL. He is a “moran”? Last time I checked, moron is spelled with no a’s and two o’s. Don’t call someone a moron, unless you know how to spell it.

  • Muriel Garcia

    Clearly, Levi won by answering the questions honestly and admitting he didn’t know some information. Lawrence, keep up the good work!

  • bev williams

    As an Alaskan who has had to listen to Sarah and Levi, I have to admit that honesty is worth something..and he’s honest, she isn’t. Ignorance is scary.
    /

  • Karen

    I love the show and I love Lawrence O’Donnell. Been wondering for a long time why he didn’t have his own show. Levi Johnston is a tool and an idiot but I have to give him kudos that he was willing to admit he didn’t read a lot and he didn’t have answers to everything, running for Mayor of Wasilla he doesn’t need to know everything. At least he was willing to admit he didn’t know which is more than the “fair” Sarah did. If he’s smart he’ll take the advice given him by Lawrence and take up a couple of other magazines so he’s more informed but ultimately his concern is with things that interest the citizens of Wasilla and how they live not world affairs.

  • jo

    It’s embarrassing to see the left wingers continue to pander to this guy. What a bunch of phony’s.

  • CTP

    An impressive drubbing…a well educated, middle aged former senate chief of staff uses questions written by a journalist with 30 years experience to make mincemeat of a political newbie highschool dropout whose only crime is that he wants to get into home-town politics. Does the word bully come to mind? Well people bully others out of fear, so what are the progressives afraid of? Levi Johnston? Or is it the gradual and belated Awakening of the American People who are finally getting the message that the progressives fundamentally believe that we are all too uninformed, too uninvolved, too uneducated or just too stupid to run our own lives?

    • ProgLib

      You don’t get it, do you? The whole interview was done to be in comparison with Palin’s disastrous encounter with Couric. It has nothing to do with bullying anybody. If O’Donnell really wanted to hit him hard and laugh at him, he would have. In fact, he went very easy on him and applauded his honesty. Instead of being insecure about your lack of education, and paranoid about “gotcha” questions, get a sense of humor next time.

  • ginger Blymyer

    I would like to send Levi The History of the World. I think he is bright enough to read it and it would help him to get a good take on the world. How would I do that? At least he is no phony/

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