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?