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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Alec Baldwin on Monday called Sarah Palin "a good sport" for confronting her comedy double Tina Fey on "Saturday Night Live" -- and the Republican vice-presidential candidate said she'd do it again "in a heartbeat."
After weeks of being lampooned by comedian Fey, Palin's appearance on the late night sketch show gave "Saturday Night Live" its best ratings in 14 years, drawing roughly 14 million viewers, according to early estimates by TV network NBC.
Baldwin, who pretended to mistake Palin for Fey in one sketch, defended the decision to invite her on the program.
"When you come on a show like that, you are prepared in advance to get worked over. Palin knew that. Palin came on to be a good sport. And she was. She was polite, gracious. (More so than some of the famous actors who come through there, believe me.)" Baldwin wrote in a blog on The Huffington Post.
Palin was a surprise running-mate pick by Republican presidential nominee John McCain and has been a big hit with conservative Christians for her no-nonsense folksy style.
But on "Saturday Night Live," Fey's parodies of Palin in the vice presidential debate and struggling in TV interviews have been a hit with the show's fans on TV and online.
In one of Saturday's sketches Palin, the governor of Alaska, participated in a mock press conference but wouldn't take questions from reporters, and she later pumped her arms to a rap song featuring a moose being shot.
Palin said afterward that she had a great time on the program and told WWOR-TV in New York on Sunday, "I would do that again in a heartbeat."
"It was the most welcoming and friendly environment that you could imagine. Everyone was so nice, and you know, you have to have a sense of humor through all of this. You have to have some levity through this. Otherwise, it would really, I think, grind on you and wear you out," she said.
Many critics and industry pundits also liked her.
"Ms. Palin's delightful performance on Saturday stood out from the efforts of other politicians who have made fun of themselves on the NBC late-night comedy show," wrote Alessandra Stanley in a New York Times column called The TV Watch.
Baldwin, who co-stars with Fey on the TV comedy "30 Rock", said several political commentators had criticized "Saturday Night Live" for giving Palin a spot on the show fearing it would sway voters on Election Day, November 4.
"You're kidding, right? The woman is the vice presidential nominee of one of the two major parties in this country. Don't put her on SNL? With all of her exposure and the Tina Fey performance? What reality are you in?," Baldwin wrote.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte