He closed down a major TV station that opposed him, and nationalized key industries. He embraced Cuba's Fidel Castro as his mentor, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as his ally and socialism as his policy. That policy suffered a setback Monday, when Venezuelan voters narrowly defeated a constitutional referendum that would have allowed him to run for reelection indefinitely and implement a number of socialist reforms.
"Socialism has not worked in most countries. Why are you going back to socialism?" asked Walters.
"We are not going back," Chavez said. "We are going forward."
"I think that Jesus Christ really preached socialism. He came here to fight for equality, for freedom, for dignity," he said.
Chavez speaks English and had this message for the American people:
"To the people of the United States. All the women, all the men, we, Venezuelan people, love you," he said.
So far, it's safe to say, many are not feeling the love.
Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, 26, is certainly feeling the love and has already given a voice to anyone who longs to live the dream. This is the year Hudson got to go to the ball, and bring home the big prize.
Hudson told Walters she can still remember when she was a 7-year-old girl who only wanted to sing.
"I still remember to this day, coming home from church crying because they would never give me a solo, so I remember being at home in a bathroom crying," she said. "I said if nobody listens to me sing, I'll listen to me sing."
Hudson went from singing in a Chicago church to singing in regional theater to a cruise ship singing high Cs on the high seas. Then in 2004, she set out to be the next "American Idol," but lost.
Hudson says she "felt challenged" by the loss.
"I said, you know what, it's something in store for me. God has something in store. I don't know what. Don't know when. Don't know where. Don't know how. But it's something coming and you will see me again."
Thanks to an Oscar win for "Dreamgirls," we will see her again and again and again. She's recording her first album and will appear in the film "Winged Creatures." Then she'll play Carrie Bradshaw's assistant in the much-anticipated "Sex and the City" movie.
Hudson says she knows that all her success could come to an end and is just enjoying the moment.
"That's why you take every moment and live in it," she said. "Because, I mean, all good things must come to an end and your time is your time. And right now is my time so I'll just try to enjoy it for what it is. Every single moment."
Barbara Walters chose J.K. Rowling, author of the wildly popular "Harry Potter" novels, as the most fascinating person of 2007.
Like her stories, Rowling's life has been a dark yet wondrous fairy tale. She tried different jobs, but she really only wanted to be a writer.
At one point Rowling had no money, or prospects. She even went on welfare. But she kept writing, and took her manuscript to 12 publishers. They all rejected it. Finally, one company offered her $4,000, with a warning.
"He said to me, there's not much money in children's books," Rowling said.
As the prolific author of seven "Harry Potter" books, Rowling has written her own happy ending, by transforming the ordinary milestones of a child's life into a story that captivated the world.