Jim Lehrer‘s response to Lawrence ODonnell‘s idea of a real, free-swinging debate was a surprise, O’Donnell says. When he called Lehrer and explained the idea, “There was a long silence at the end of the phone. I was sure he was searching for a polite way of saying that ‘this is absolutely ridiculous, that would never happen, that’s such a Hollywood idea.’ But he said, ‘I’ve been sitting up there, waiting for that to happen for years.'”