ABC anchorman Charles Gibson displayed some of his trademark geniality in the closing moments of the last of three interviews with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin seen Friday on ABC World News.

He could afford to do so. He had served the public well during the heavily scrutinized conversation. He had given voters a much better sense of Palin's limitations than they had before he and she sat down to talk in Alaska this week.


Just as he had with round one on Thursday, Gibson won rounds two and three Friday challenging her on the way she has portrayed her role in the pork barrel project known as "The Bridge to Nowhere" and pressing for specifics when she tried to offer platitudes on the nation's economic malaise.

"But you were for it before you were against it," Gibson said when Palin tried to use her ultimate opposition to the bridge as evidence of her being a reformer. "You were solidly for it for quite some period of time."

"I was...." she started to say.

"Until Congress pulled the plug," he said interrupting her.

Gibson was not quite ready yet to drop the steely resolve that had served him so well in the first interview as he played professor to the graduate student who had not prepared adequately for her exam.

At the end of the session, standing by the beautiful lake outside the backdoor of the Palin home, Gibson handed her a lollipop, a soft question that she could use to try and make some trouble for her Democratic opponent.

Does she think Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, regets not picking Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate, Gibson asked.

"I think he regrets not picking her now," Palin said warming to the opportunity. "I do. What, what determination and grit and even grace through some tough shots that were fired her way," Palin said, with the implication that Obama had fired them at Clinton left hanging in the air.

Gibson could afford to let her the moment. He had controlled and won game, set and match.

(Above: ABC Photo of Charles Gibson by Ida Mae Astute)