Sporting a newly-grown beard, an emotional Lawrence O’Donnell returned to his anchor chair on MSNBC Monday night. It had been 75 days since O’Donnell broke his hip when a taxi he was riding in was hit by a drunk driver in the Virgin Islands on April 12.

Image: Screen capture MSNBC.com

Image: Screen capture MSNBC.com

In the show’s opening segment, O’Donnell appeared to well up with tears and be overcome by emotion more than once as he detailed what happened to him and his “big brother,” Michael, on the night of the accident.

He also expressed his sincere thanks to MSNBC execs that worked tirelessly to get both O’Donnell brothers airlifted to U.S. hospitals. And O’Donnell was quite generous with praise for the doctors and nurses who repaired his broken hip and worked with him through his long and painful post-surgery rehab.

However, one “thank-you” will probably get the attention of people across the political spectrum. So unexpected was the statement that Lawrence O’Donnell was about to make, he actually had to preface it with a warning for his loyal viewers.

“Now brace yourselves please for the first positive words said about David Koch on this program,” he said.

The man who has been openly critical of the political contributions of the Koch brothers proceeded to list the very large donations that the two billionaires have made to the arts, medical research and treatment, adding, “David Koch has given over twenty-five million dollars to the hospital that put me and many other men, women and children back together.”

Image: Screen capture MSNBC.com

Image: Screen capture MSNBC.com

What sparked O’Donnell to spend valuable MSNBC airtime heaping praise on one of the people deemed evil by him and so many others on his network? It was a sign that he spotted while being wheeled into New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery.

O’Donnell likely sensed that many loyal MSNBC viewers would be confused by his heaping praise on men that Democrat Harry Reid has vilified from the floor of the U.S. Senate over one hundred times in the first two months of this year. So, he clarified it for the viewer using a quote from author F. Scott Fitzgerald.

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

Image: Screen capture MSNBC.com

Image: Screen capture MSNBC.com

After using the Fitzgerald quote to make his point, O’Donnell went a step further and actually explained how you can hold two different opinions on a person.

“You can be outraged by what the Koch brothers do with their money in politics, and you can appreciate what they contribute to hospitals and medical research,” he assured his audience. “And you can do that at the same time and still retain the ability to function. Look, I’m doing it right now, and I’m still sorta functioning.”

Watch O’Donnell explain his realization that he can support something the Koch brothers do with their money:

Here’s the entire segment with O’Donnell explaining what happened to him and his brother when a drunk driver his the taxi that:

 

Follow Mike Opelka (@Stuntbrain) on Twitter.