05/25/2010 01:15 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Energy Secretary Steven Chu Discusses Gulf Oil Spill And Energy Policy With Maddow (VIDEO)

"Welcome to the brutal world of the most important policy issue in the world that no one can stand to talk about for very long. What cause for optimism, concerning our next guest? At least he is a nerd, which does -- in this case -- seem like cause for hope."

Rachel Maddow was clearly excited to welcome Energy Secretary Steven Chu to her program on Monday night, kicking off her "Geek Week" with an eight-minute introduction of a man wielding a PhD and Nobel Prize. But his appearance was set against a disconcerting backdrop, as the Gulf oil spill continues to worsen not long after serious problems in both the coal and nuclear industries. Maddow cited nearly every president since the mid-70's as an advocate of swift action on energy policy, but also observed that little progress has been made. "Politicians love to talk tough about oil and energy," she said. "They also love to not rock the boat too much. And the boat, such as it is, floats on a sea of oil."

After an initial segment touching on broader energy issues, Maddow and Chu focused on the Gulf oil spill for the second segment. Maddow took issue with Chu's assertion that the administration has instituted a moratorium on new drilling offshore, pointing out that approvals seem to be moving forward. Chu suggested it could be a matter of interpretation.

While Maddow respected her guest's credentials, she also wasn't afraid to call him out when he seemed to duck a couple of her questions. After Chu twice suggested that he only knew what he learned from media reports, Maddow mused, "Mr. Secretary, I would say I'm worried that you only know what you read in the papers about what's being approved."

WATCH PART ONE: With a focus on renewable energy, energy dependence and nuclear power.

WATCH PART TWO: With a focus on BP and the Gulf oil disaster.