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FishbowlDC Interview With MSNBC’s Willie Geist

Say hello to host of MSNBC’s “Way too Early” and co-host of “Morning Joe” Willie Geist. He was spotted in D.C. this week to promote his new book American Freak Show.

Wherever you look, people of all genders gush. One D.C. journo (a male) called him “very sweet lovable, funny.” A Secret Admirer (female) said: “Willie is seriously hilarious, incredibly nice, and was never anything but lovely to work with. He also sleeps about 45 minutes a day, so he’s probably a few weeks away from a psychotic episode. I have no idea how he functions at work that early in the morning. I love Willie.”

Geist answered our questions while riding the Acela on his way back to Manhattan. He says he hopes his answers are coherent. They are. Enjoy.

If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be? Dr. Pepper: spicy, bold, and an unlicensed physician.

How often do you Google yourself? Never. That’s what Google Alerts are for. Just yesterday I learned through this service that I am a “no-talent d*****bag”.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor (or vice versa) “You know what? ‘Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights’ is totally underrated.”

Who is your favorite working journalist? That’s an easy one. Bill Geist, CBS News.

Do you have a favorite word? “Phalange”, although I don’t find occasion to use it as often as I’d like to.

Who would you rather have dinner with First Lady Michelle Obama or Bestselling Author and former V.P. candidate Sarah Palin? Dinner with the First Lady. Drinks and karaoke with Palin.

What’s the name of your cell phone ring? I am violently opposed to ringtones. There’s nothing like hearing a loud, overmodulated version of Ke$ha’s new single screaming from the pink phone of the 15-year-old next to you on the subway. Strictly factory settings for me.

When did you last cry and why? “Hoosiers” caught me at a weak moment the other day. Hackman’s “I love you guys” locker room speech before the South Bend Central state final game puts a lump in the throat. It quickly went away though when I got frustrated with Central’s atrocious execution down the stretch. They gave that game away to Hickory.

What word do you routinely misspell? “Caribbean”. Is it two “r”s and one “b” or the other way around? Haunts me whenever I’m jotting a note to a friend about Billy Ocean‘s 1984 hit “Caribbean Queen”.

Learn Geist’s most embarrassing career moment after the jump. It involves an obscene amount of sweating…

What swear word do you use most often? Horsehockey. As in, “That’s a bunch of horsehockey!”

What word or phrase do you overuse? “Literally”. I’m weaning myself off completely. 99% of the use of that word is literally incorrect.

What TV show do you have to watch? 30 Rock. Also, any show that involves people in different colored jerseys running into each other, using a ball as a metaphor for their struggle.

Whom do you prefer for daytime talk, Dr. Phil, Ellen, Oprah, Tyra or the women of The View? Is that Sally Jessy still on? Always liked her spunk.

If you were trapped on a deserted island, which public official would you want to be trapped with and why? Congressman Darrell Issa. We’d build a catamaran made of subpoenas.

What’s the best advice you ever received in the course of your career? Be yourself. Put your signal out and hope people get it. An audience can spot a phony from a mile away.

What and where was your first job in journalism? Editor, CNN/Sports Illustrated. I cut highlights for a 24-hour sports network right out of college. Fun as hell.

What’s your most embarrassing career moment? A Wayne Gretzky interview at the Vancouver Olympics that’s known around the halls of NBC as “Sweat-zky”. I’d taken to the town a bit the night before, hadn’t slept in weeks, and already wasn’t feeling well when I was called in quickly to interview The Great One. I decided, for reasons that remain a mystery to me, to go with not only the sweater, but the blazer over the sweater. Mix into this toxic cocktail some hot studio lights and you’ve got “Broadcast News” Albert Brooks-level sweating. I’m not a sweater, but Gretzky certainly would tell you otherwise.

Which one interview of your career did you enjoy most? Off the top of my head, Judah Friedlander darted off the set to beat up a ninja in the middle of our interview a few weeks ago. True story.

Which one interview of your career did you enjoy least? Tucker Carlson and I interviewed the trainer for “Mikey the Chimp” and Mikey got loose in our studio. Tough to focus on the material when there’s a primate running circles around you.

What’s the biggest scoop you’ve ever had? Donald Trump once called to tip me off ahead of his press conference that he was going to allow Miss California Carrie Prejean to retain her tiara despite the revelation of some racy photos online. It was my Watergate — the story that defined a generation.

When and why did you last laugh so hard you had tears in your eyes? “Jackass 3D”. I know it’s dumb, but a man can’t control his involuntary laughter.

When and why did you last lose your temper? When the iPad web connection works like 1994 dial-up. Although rectangular, the device makes a decent frisbee actually.

Which movie title best describes your journalism career? “Soul Plane”.

Who would you want to play you in a movie? Dolph Lundgren.

Name some jobs you’ve had outside of journalism. (Can start as young as teenage years): *Pizza delivery man. Drove a Jeep CJ-7 — the bumpy ride was not ideal for maintaining cheese integrity. *Landscaper. Three long summers of weedwacking and pushing a 52″ Scag. *Liquor delivery. Drove a windowless van that had last been inspected in 1978. Occasionally borrowed merchandise.

Finally, please come up for a question for our next FishbowlDC interviewee. Make it good. Do you think Barack Obama will be re-elected? As a member of the media, will you weep openly or quietly in your office with the door closed if he is not?

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