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Larry King Live

Duke of `Doonesbury' Declares His Presidential Candidacy

Aired March 13, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, political history. Some candidates end up on the comics page, we've got one who started there: Former Ambassador Duke, making the first-of-its-kind leap from "Doonesbury" to 3-D, joins us from Washington. He's out to change the face of campaign 2000.

On hand to assess his unique White House hopes, syndicated columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, host of CNN's "EVANS NOVAK HUNT & SHIELDS." Also joining us, in Los Angeles, Bill Maher, the host of "Politically Incorrect." In New York, Al Franken, author of the bestseller "Why Not Me?" And in Washington, our very own Tucker Carlson, staff writer for "The Weekly Standard" and contributor to "Talk" magazine. And they're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Attention copy editors and news analysts around the world. Let's go right to Washington, D.C., where we start with Duke, Ambassador Duke, the former governor of American Samoa, the former ambassador to China.

(COUGHING)

(LAUGHTER)

And obviously, a nervous smoker.

Duke is prepared to make a major announcement tonight, right out of the cartoon strip "Doonesbury." Let's make it: Are you running for president?

AMBASSADOR DUKE (REF), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Larry, you heard it right here. Yes, I am running, Larry. And I want to shake things up in Washington. I want to be the ferret in the pants of government. And I'm announcing it right here, because this is, let's face it, ground zero for American politics. You are, you're where the rubber meets the road, big guy.

KING: You've got it on the nose. Now, are you running independent, one of the parties, or Reform Party? What -- what -- where are you making your entrance?

DUKE: Well, Reform Party right now. I'm -- you know, I'm just an average Joe. I have got nothing but a shoe shine, a smile, and a pillow case full of soft money over there. That's -- and I'm running for Reform, against Pat Buchanan right now. KING: You're challenging Buchanan. All right. Let's discuss some of the major issues that'll take place.

What about this flat tax proposal?

DUKE: It's not the flax tax. That was a misprint. It's the fat tax. See, I want a tax code to create some serious disincentives for the weight-challenged. I think there's a huge social cost for obesity here.

You go to mall, you know, it's like double-wides there. The burden of the health care system: We tax smokers. Why not overeaters?

What I say, the public transportation crisis, the seat spillover is out of control. Tax on a prorated basis by weight. The truly heavy will literally start pulling their own weight. They'll help destigmatize obesity.

You know, Larry, on the back of trucks, you know that little sign that's on the back of trucks? It says, I pay $4,000 in taxes?

KING: Right.

DUKE: We put that on the back side of people. And they'll -- people'll see, they'll say, I salute that guy or gal. That gal is carrying their tax burden, paying it for us. And it'll help.

KING: Is -- is your slogan true? Is it "whatever it takes," is that your slogan?

DUKE: Well, that's on the bump -- that's on bumper stickers and so forth. My slogan is really compassionate fascism. That's what I stand for. Or maybe coercive libertarianism. I think sometimes you have to force freedom down people's throats. You know what I'm saying?

Can I give you an example here?

KING: Yes, please.

DUKE: All right. Homeless, let's take the homeless situation. I want to help the homeless. You know, I've got a big contributor out in Reno, and he's got a great place out there. What I want to do is round up all the homeless people, you know, like take them out there, put them on flatbeds. Let them wander around, do the same thing they do here, you know. Build little sidewalks for them, places, little niches. And you give them cardboard boxes and help them. You know, I don't want to trip over them, I just want to help them.

And what I would do here is appoint Martha Stewart to be the secretary of housing. That would really clean things up. She would have a profound effect, you know, teach them crafts, how to decorate their little boxes, Christmas wrapping. They could be taught wonderful things to do with paper and scissors if we just -- if we just taught them that. And Martha Stewart, I think she would help the administration. I hear she's tough to work with, but I want that kind of people, person in my administration. Also she's a babe.

KING: I buy that. Do you -- what's your education policy?

DUKE: Well, education -- I think the education -- the public education is bloated and inefficient. I'd streamline it. And I mean streamline the heck of it. I would hire one teacher, one teacher for each subject, and give them a cable channel and let the kids watch from home.

I mean, we like our kids to get a good education, but we also want someone home when the package comes.

So what I would do, like the proponents of network television say kids learn everything from TV. Well, let the kids learn their -- get their education from an institution they actually respect. Now there's a sweeping proposal for you.

KING: Do you -- are you -- by the way, let's find out some personal things. Are you married?

DUKE: Ah, not currently.

KING: Not currently.

DUKE: Do you have to go to personal? It's OK. It's all right. It's...

KING: We're not going to have a -- we're not going to have a first lady?

DUKE: Let me tell you something: I am going to have a -- let me -- I'm going to announce it exclusively right here on LARRY KING. Speaking of first lady, I want to talk about my vice presidential candidate. I want to announce that it's going to be Kathie Lee Gifford. You know why, Larry?

KING: Why?

DUKE: One, she's available. Two, she's used to being, you know, VP, second banana. She's been vice president under Regis for a long time. She's tough. She knows how to run a string of sweatshops. And lastly, she's perky. You know, I mean, perky, that's key. You know, we haven't had a perky vice president, since you know, well, you have to go all the way back to Dan Quayle. And perky, like a cheerleader, and she's also headline-bait.

That's why -- I think Kathie Lee is going to really help out this -- this campaign.

KING: It's Duke and Kathie Lee Gifford, is the ticket...

DUKE: That's exactly right. Thank you, Larry, for saying that so well. KING: That's a major story. What about guns? A lot of talk about gun policy in America. It's the current rage. Clinton is even in on the dispute with the head of the NRA. Where do you stand?

DUKE: Yes, you know, I'm not -- I'm not going to be popular right now except with the NRA. Hold on a second. Has that check cleared? It has? OK, let me tell you. I'm going to take a strong stand here. I think mandatory gun ownership, simple safety issue here. We require seat belts. Why not side arms?

I believe every American should be...

KING: Everybody should have a gun?

DUKE: Yes. We should -- every American should be in a position to return fire, you know, in their day-to-day life. That's -- and according to the NRA mailing, if you know someone's armed, it prevents a lot of misunderstandings. At least they get resolved very quickly. A brief exchange and you're on your way to your next class or whatever. That's my personal belief, as long as that check clears.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: One of your themes is building a bridge back to the 20th century. You...

DUKE: Right.

KING: ... want to go back to old values.

DUKE: That's right. That's right. You know, I think -- let me tell you something. Let me tell you about a little dream I had. This is core with me.

I had a dream. I have a dream. I have a dream that all men -- well, it's not actually a dream. It's more like a hallucination. And it's not really men. It's more like elves, the Keebler elves actually. They broke into my motel room a few weeks ago, and while the elves were going through my pants pockets looking for loose change, Papa Keebler -- he was sitting on the edge of my bed. He was right there. I could just reach out and touch him. Now Papa Keebler, he looked to me, and I thought he was going to say something about cookies. But he said, Duke, follow your rainbow., And then the squad car pulled up and all the elves scattered. You should have seen them.

KING: But Duke...

DUKE: But I never forgot that. It changed my outlook forever. When other people see a brighter tomorrow, I see colors. But that's just me and we don't need to get into that.

KING: Duke...

DUKE: Yes, sir.

KING: ... there's obviously a strange aspect to you? DUKE: I -- that has been said before. I think I'm a creative, independent thinker. And we don't have that in politics now. We've got -- we've got the battle of the preppies here, you know, Bush and Gore. There's no diversity. I'm diverse.

KING: And you...

DUKE: And you don't want -- Buchanan, you don't want Buchanan. I mean, the guy is a -- you know, he's a total demagogue. So am I, but I have never pinched the head off a chihuahua. Now I'm not sure he has either, but he's capable of that.

KING: Do you think smoking is going to help your campaign? You obviously are a smoker. Do you think that's going to be good for you today?

DUKE: Well, you know, it's -- I'm going to shoot straight. I'm going to tell it like it is. And I think everyone else is avoiding the issues.

Yes, so smoking is just who I am, sure.

KING: You smoke, period.

DUKE: I smoke.

KING: That's you?

DUKE: Yes. That's me. That's...

KING: Let me get a break, and when we come back, Ambassador Duke, we're going to hear the comments of Rowland Evans and Robert Novak. They'll make a first announcement on you. And then our panel will join us, and we'll have you remain for a while. OK?

Thank you, Ambassador Duke. When we come back, Evans and Novak comment on this historic night, and then Maher, Franken and Carlson. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back, and before our panel joins us, it's our distinguished pleasure to have two of the great analysts in American political history, Rowland Evans and Robert Novak. They're at our studios in Washington.

Duke has announced for the presidency. His slogan, "whatever it takes," compassionate fascism, whatever -- what do you guys make of this? Rollie Evans and Robert Novak, what do you make of this historic announcement?

ROWLAND EVANS, CNN'S EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT & SHIELDS: Larry, Larry, it is just gripping. I mean, off the top of my head, I'll say, Bob, this country needs a new candidate. His name should be Duke. What I like, particularly, is -- what do we do with all of this surplus? We divide it into little bits and pieces. We hide it in cash all around the country, and then if we really get in trouble in this country we know we have hard cash for people to go and pick up in the form of these -- of these -- this fiscal dividend that's extra tax that's coming into Uncle Sam.

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN's EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT & SHIELDS: Well, Rollie, I came here expecting to laugh at this comic strip character running for president. But you know, honestly -- and I'm being serious -- he does make more sense than a lot of the candidates, and he has -- he has novel ideas.

For example, he is for a fat tax, not a flat tax, a fat tax, taxing people who eat too much. But what I really like is his campaign for mandatory gun ownership. You know, if everybody in this country owned a gun, it would be a lot safer place.

EVANS: Well, you know, on the fat tax, though, that may be a little too heavy to fly. I like the idea, but I'm not sure he's going far on that. I think campaign reform is even more interesting, Bob. This guy says -- and he says it absolutely honestly -- you can -- you can -- you have to do cigarettes. You have to do baby food. You have to do certain health measures. You have to limit and obstruct -- the federal government has to save lives.

But you can't lose a life in a bad campaign. So take all the reins off. Let them raise any amount of money they want, emblazon their not-square-shooting-express wagon. But have it up there: "Gore, Viagra, Back Gore." Go into Times Square with this thing on the wagon, and you don't think people would rally around Al Gore and he'd pick up a million dollars from Pfizer.

NOVAK: I thought we were talking about Duke, and I -- I am...

EVANS: That's going to be a part of his platform.

NOVAK: Yes, but I am -- I tell you what about Duke. I like most of what he said. But he said something that will surely lose him the state of Florida. He might lose me. And that is his plan for Elian Gonzalez, the little Cuban boy. He would have Ted Turner adopt him and put him in a CNN house with CNN anchors as the rotating foster parents. Now, how would you like a CNN -- a different CNN anchor to come in every week for this little boy? I think that is -- that is not compassionate fascism. That's mean fascism.

EVANS: What do you think -- what do you think of his education program? Considering and comparing it to all the programs we have out there by George W., by Al Gore, and before he got out of the race by John McCain and Senator Bradley, he says leave the kids in their house. Somebody has to be home in case a package is delivered. That's not a bad point. There's no mother there. There's no father there. They're at work. And then have the teacher do it over cable television. I think this might save the American family.

NOVAK: Who would you rather have -- go out to dinner with, George W. Bush, Al Gore, or Ambassador Duke?

EVANS: Me, Duke. NOVAK: I think he's a lot of fun.

KING: Hey, Bob...

NOVAK: Yes, Larry.

KING: Let me interrupt because we're running short on time.

Bob, should Duke be allowed in the debates?

NOVAK: Oh, definitely. Of course, I believe everybody should be allowed in the debates, but I think he definitely should, because -- and he has a -- he has a very good background. You know, he has had a lot of government positions. He's had almost as many as George Bush Sr. had. So I would put him in the debates, and I would also suggest that all the debates be anchored by Larry King. How would that work?

EVANS: That's a freebie, Larry. That's a freebie.

KING: We'll stay with both of you throughout this entire campaign. Thanks so much.

Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, the co-hosts of "EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT AND SHIELDS," syndicated columnists, bestselling authors in their own right. Bob Novak has a terrific new book out about an American revolution.

And we'll come back with our panel and more on this incredible night in political history. Duke is in the race. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Ambassador Duke, officially announcing he's a candidate for the Reform Party nomination, at our studios in Washington.

And now joining us here in Los Angeles is Bill Maher, the host of "Politically Incorrect." In New York, Al Franken, the author of "Why Not Me?: And in Washington, Tucker Carlson, CNN political analyst, staff writer for "The Weekly Standard" and contributor to "Talk" magazine.

Before we get the panel's thoughts, Ambassador Duke, what do you make of what Evans and Novak had to say?

DUKE: You know, I'm very appreciative. They seem to catch the fire that I'm trying to put out there. I'm throwing like a deck chair into a pond and watching the ripples go out, and I think they caught the ripples. I'm impressed with their perception, and I appreciate that.

KING: Mr. Maher, what do you make of this?

BILL MAHER, HOST, "POLITICALLY INCORRECT": Fiasco?

(LAUGHTER) KING: This announcement? You don't buy it. You are questioning it? You pain me.

MAHER: I don't know. I'm just kidding. And it's good to see it here on Comedy Central, Larry.

(LAUGHTER)

No, I mean, hey, when I want a laugh, I go to Evans and Novak every time.

(LAUGHTER)

No, I think he -- you know, this Duke raises -- what? I'm just saying he raises good points.

KING: A gun for everybody...

MAHER: No, I don't agree with that. But I mean, you know, you have to kind of find them and through his satire. But I think what he's talking about, the other candidates being bought off and needing a breath of fresh air, we certainly need that. I was thinking the other night -- somebody was quoting Lincoln's famous "you can fool some of the people all the time, and all the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time." Like that's a great thing. Can't we raise the bar a little higher than that for people?

KING: Mr. Franken, what is your first impression of this night?

AL FRANKEN, AUTHOR, "WHY NOT ME?": Well, I'm a little disappointed in you, Larry. I think you're just giving him softballs.

KING: Well, go ahead. Ask him what you want.

FRANKEN: Well, you know, this is -- OK, I will. I mean...

KING: OK.

FRANKEN: ... we're in a post-Clinton election.

DUKE: Please, please, I'd like that. Let's mix it up a little bit.

FRANKEN: Yes, I think character is going to be very big this year. You seem to kind of dodge Larry's question about your past marriage -- marriage or marriages? Drug use. I was just...

DUKE: Well, let's talk about it.

FRANKEN: I mean, I don't blame you. You're the candidate. I blame Larry for not...

(LAUGHTER)

DUKE: I don't have any -- you know, I've always thought that, you know, you shouldn't be asking questions about my drug past. It's my drug future that's more relevant actually.

I hate to sound like a Boy Scout here, but when it comes to drugs, I do think it's important to be prepared. You know, and when you ask Bush about whether he may or may not have used cocaine, everyone knows that coming from Bush that's just a load. And when I say I may or may not have used a drug, I'm -- we're talking legitimate ambiguity, because I genuinely don't recall. You know, so...

(LAUGHTER)

... and that's the whole point of drugs anyway. So you've got to be straight with people. And that's all I'm promising. I'll be...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Go ahead, Al.

FRANKEN: Well, you started by saying what's important is what you'll do in terms of drugs in the future. Will you be using crystal meth in the White House, LSD?

DUKE: Well, you know, I think those are options. Sure, sure. Those are options open to anybody.

I'm a Libertarian.

FRANKEN: See what I mean, Larry.

DUKE: And I'm not going to commit to that.

KING: OK. Well, wait a minute, Al. You've asked the supposedly very tough questions, and he's answered it honestly. His options are open.

FRANKEN: I'm showing you how to do an interview, Larry.

KING: Thank you, al.

Tucker Carlson, what do you make of this so far?

TUCKER CARLSON, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, I have covered the Reform Party both in '96 and now, and you know, he doesn't seem out of place at all.

(LAUGHTER)

I've interviewed a lot of people in the Reform Party with weirder ideas. That bit about the Keebler elves and hallucinating and visiting in, you know, his motel room, I've heard that kind of thing before. I went to the convention in Long Beach...

(LAUGHTER)

... in '96, there was quite a bit.

And I love the ambassador stuff. I mean, if Alan Keyes can pretend to be an ambassador, you know, why not a cartoon character?

DUKE: Hey, pal...

KING: So in other words, Tucker hits it on the nose.

DUKE: ... I was ambassador to China.

KING: He is a perfect candidate of the Reform Party. You agree, Bill?

MAHER: Well, you know what? It's all very funny to make these jokes about his drug use and stuff, but the sad fact is not one of the four candidates we had had the guts to come out against this ruinous drug war, which is robbing millions of Americans of freedom and all of us of our civil rights. And there are something like a million Americans in jail for victimless crimes. If this was a disease, we wouldn't tolerate it.

KING: So you would change our policy toward...

MAHER: So I'm using Duke to make serious points.

(LAUGHTER)

I refuse to participate.

DUKE: Thank you. Thank you.

KING: OK.

DUKE: Well-said.

KING: Let me get a break here, and I'll...

DUKE: There's a position for you. There's a position for you, Bill. Thank you.

MAHER: Thank you.

KING: You're in the Cabinet.

MAHER: Look at that. I wedged my way in...

KING: We'll be right back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Maybe Franken won't be here. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: In a sense, Al Franken, does this announcement excite you just by the fact that it's going to jolt up this race a little? Both Messieurs Bush and Gore are viewed as somewhat establishment.

FRANKEN: Well, I think that we have a situation where we have two candidates who aren't on the face -- on their face funny, but we do have George W. Bush going to places like Bob Jones and apologizing for the anti-Catholic bias there: not, by the way, apologizing for the interracial dating policy there, the ban on it, the former ban on it, which I think Thomas Jefferson would have spoken out against. And...

KING: What I you mean, do you think that this race needs a jolt?

FRANKEN: I think we're going to get the jolt when Pat Buchanan gets the nomination.

KING: Ah. Duke, he's saying...

(CROSSTALK)

FRANKEN: When he gets the Reform, unless Duke gets it.

KING: Duke, he's saying Buchanan is going to beat you.

DUKE: Look, it gets down to electability. Who do you want?

(LAUGHTER)

Buchanan, this John Rocker of politics, pre-therapy, or me? I'm much more electable than Buchanan, please.

KING: Tucker, as our...

DUKE: I would like to get away from the issues and get to personalities, can we?

KING: Tucker, as our expert on the Reform Party, does he have a shot against Buchanan or is Buchanan too far ahead?

CARLSON: I don't know. I think smoking is the problem. I mean, I find it refreshing to see someone light a cigarette in primetime, but I think most Americans would elect a child molester before they elected a cigarette smoker. So I think you're out of luck, pal.

KING: So you agree.

MAHER: I agree most Americans would. I don't agree it's correct. I agree that...

FRANKEN: I don't agree that Buchanan is a child molester.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Wait a minute. We're losing control here.

Are you saying that the smoker is worse than a child molester?

MAHER: I am not. I am saying...

KING: What are you saying?

MAHER: ... that is what -- he said Americans would elect a child molester before a smoker. And I'm saying, I agree, Americans would, but I don't think that is right.

KING: And why would Americans? MAHER: Because America has a tremendous hypocrisy about smoking. I mean, if Ketchup had 1/10th of the carcinogens in a cigarette, they would rip it off the shelf in two minutes. I mean, smoking is a vice. People who sell vices are pushers, and Uncle Sam wants a cut, but somehow we have a very inconsistent idea of what we should stop from killing us.

KING: You are really in a...

MAHER: I get revved up for LARRY KING.

KING: ... in a tough mood tonight.

DUKE: Bill is on a tear and I'm loving it.

MAHER: I'm on LARRY KING!

(LAUGHTER)

KING: And Duke is loving you.

MAHER: You know, they said, do you want to do LARRY KING? They didn't say, you want to do the "Simpsons?" I don't know. Suddenly I'm with cartoons. I don't get this. I'm on LARRY KING.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Duke, we have a few more minutes remaining with you, and then we're going to get into a major discussion here, which I know you will watch. I must ask you, is -- is Trudeau, Gary Trudeau, who draws you, is he the moving thing behind you? That is, will he run your campaign or are you your own man?

DUKE: No, he's the chronicler. He's chronicled me. I'm really not -- I'm not a cartoon character. I'm a syndicated cartoon icon. There's a big difference there. And he just -- he's sort of peeked into my life.

No, I'm my own guy here. I'm running out of Coon Rapids, Minnesota, and I'm an independent, as independent as you can get.

KING: All right. Is there anything you want to say to Pat Buchanan on this historic night, your opponent?

DUKE: Yes. I would say, Pat, your 5 percent is being whittled down right now, and I'm coming after you. I'm on you. I'm sniffing your jeans right now. I'm in there. So I'm dogging you, and I'm going to be there.

So yes, you better watch out.

KING: We're going...

DUKE: I have got real concrete proposals out there.

KING: We're going to... DUKE: Sorry.

KING: ... hold Duke for a couple of more minutes.

DUKE: All right.

KING: We have a couple more areas we want to cover, and then we'll continue with Maher, Franken and Carlson.

This is LARRY KING LIVE in Los Angeles, Washington and New York. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. A political first on tonight's LARRY KING LIVE: "Doonesbury's" Duke is with us from Washington discussing his historic presidential bid. And you thought he was just a one- dimensional comic strip character.

With us in Los Angeles is Bill Maher, the host of "Politically Incorrect." Duke already loves him. In New York, comedian and author Al Franken, who I doubt will serve in the Duke Cabinet. And in D.C., Tucker Carlson of "The Weekly Standard" and "Talk" magazine, who's our expert on Reform Party politics, and who guarantees following Duke around closely. He'll probably keep him more interested for the remainder of our time.

We have a call for Duke. Orlando, Florida, hello.

(LAUGHTER)

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: How are you?

KING: How are you?

CALLER: Doing well.

I am a youth minister calling from Florida, and I'm wanting to know -- a lot of the other candidates have been open about their religion, I was hoping Duke would be willing tonight to make a statement of faith of some kind.

KING: Fair question. Duke, are you a believer? What faith do you belong to?

DUKE: I am a believer. I...

KING: Come on, Duke. Franken taught me to do this. Come on, Duke. Don't waffle.

DUKE: I'm right there with that -- with that good Christian gentleman from Orlando. I'm ride there walking side to side into the sunset with him. That's what I -- I feel very strongly about that.

KING: Are you Christian? Are you born again?

DUKE: I am -- born again? Sure, sure, I'm born again.

MAHER: Don't answer, Duke.

KING: What do you mean don't answer?

MAHER: That is not a question...

KING: What do you mean don't answer?

MAHER: That is not a question a candidate should be answering.

KING: We don't have the right to know that?

MAHER: No. Religion is -- faith is private. That's what Bill Bradley said -- and you see how far he got. But it is. Don't answer it, Duke.

KING: Wait a minute.

MAHER: You stand you're ground, Duke.

KING: Hold it. Hey, hey, hold it. Bill, you said something that should be revealed. And, Duke, you've got to hear this.

Who do you think Duke looks like?

MAHER: I said he looks like Hunter Thompson.

KING: Duke, are you hurt by that or helped?

DUKE: You know, I...

KING: Does it bother you?

DUKE: I've been compared to -- no, it doesn't bother me. I think I look a little bit like Bill Bradley after liposuction, myself.

KING: All right, Franken...

DUKE: You know...

KING: Franken -- Franken?

FRANKEN: Yes, yes, yes.

KING: What's your assessment thus far of his policy?

DUKE: Did he fall asleep up there?

DUKE: Give me your overall assessment now. We've got Buchanan, we've got Bush, Gore and Duke. FRANKEN: Well, I think this will be interesting to watch. I think Duke has some ideas now. This mandatory gun idea is not going to work for, for example, convicted -- people who have been convicted already of shooting people.

KING: Yes, they might have a problem.

FRANKEN: So they shouldn't have guns. So I think that under real questioning, some of these issues are going to come back -- backfire on Duke. And -- but I think what's great about this is that I think Duke will be able to comment as the -- as everything progresses, as we see this campaign that -- the different terrain we go over. I'm going to be interested in watching Duke every day, in his strip and in this -- whatever this is exactly.

KING: And by his chronicler, Mr. Trudeau.

To Ellijay, Georgia -- hello.

CALLER: Ambassador Duke...

DUKE: Yes.

CALLER: What would you do about the rising gasoline prices as a candidate for president of the United States?

DUKE: All right, you know, right there, Bush has said he's going to cut federal taxes. You know, he just cut -- that's going to help his little oil buddies, but what's it going to leave the rest of us? What I -- there's only one way to get leverage here. And I don't like to say this, but it's hostages. We need to detain some visiting OPEC nationals. Yes, sure, it's terrorism, but, hey, the situation is critical here. We've got spring break coming up.

KING: Do we need...

DUKE: We've got to negotiate heavily there, and we need some cards in our deck here.

KING: Duke, are you -- they've asked you to stay. Can you stay with us, Duke? Or do you have a rally tonight?

DUKE: Yes, yes, why not? I wish I had a rally tonight.

KING: Can you stay?

DUKE: No, no, I'm here. I'm here.

KING: By the way, do you have any rallies planned? Where do you begin your campaign? Tomorrow, where are you going?

DUKE: Tomorrow I'm going to go back to Coon Rapids. I'm going home, and what I'm getting is some of that McCain confetti. I'm going to get some of the Rio thing happening over my head everywhere. That's what I'm going to get.

KING: What happened to McCain, Tucker? I'm asking Tucker -- We're bringing in other candidates here, Duke, they ran.

CARLSON: Well McCain illustrates part of the appeal and problem of humor. I mean, McCain is a very amusing guy. There's no presidential candidate in history who's ever eaten doughnuts or biscuits during interviews like McCain did almost every single day.

On the other hand, audiences don't catch irony or sarcasm sometimes. I remember, one of his stock lines when he'd speak to high school students would be, you know, you've got to get out to vote. If you're 18, vote. And if you're not 18, sneak in and pretend you're 18 and try to vote for me. And he'd deliver this line, and everyone, you know, sort of standing in the back would laugh. But you'd look around the crowd and there would be kind of these blank stares. You know, is he endorsing a crime here?

I think people expect a certain kind of straightness from their candidates, and when he would get up on stage with a light saber and stuff, I mean, he won my heart and those of a lot of other people, but I think generally people were nervous about that.

KING: Bill, what happened to humor, though, since -- who was the last humorous candidate, Stevenson?

MAHER: Real humor? It was John Kennedy.

KING: Adlai was funnier than Kennedy.

MAHER: I don't remember Adlai Stevenson..

KING: All right, you're too young.

MAHER: We've had this discussion.

KING: OK, yes.

MAHER: (OFF-MIKE)

CARLSON: Mo Udall.

KING: I know. Mo Udall was hysterical.

MAHER: Oh, man, he used to -- he was funnier than EVANS & NOVAK. He used to have me on the deck.

KING: No, Mo Udall was funny.

MAHER: But that's not why McCain lost was because...

KING: You're getting serious again. He's having fun. OK, why did he lose?

MAHER: Because he didn't have money and because he came out against money, because he came out against the corrupt system.

KING: No, no.

DUKE: All right, that's true.

FRANKEN: He also went up...

MAHER: That's exactly why McCain...

FRANKEN: He also went up...

KING: All right, one at a time.

FRANKEN: He also went up against Falwell and Robertson...

MAHER: Right.

FRANKEN: ... and I think that -- unfortunately -- when he was doing that, I was going, yeah -- this isn't going to work. Good for you. This is a mistake.

DUKE: He didn't just go up against them.

MAHER: But mostly because...

DUKE: He didn't just go up against them. He traveled to Virginia and bit Pat Robertson in the pants. The pope with the Baptist. I mean, that's a candidacy killer right there. You don't do that. I learned from that -- I'm not going to do that.

KING: You're not going to -- no, you're every religion, right?

DUKE: I'm going to step over the bodies here. That's what I'm going to do.

KING: Do you think he was hurt badly by that? Buchanan, Robertson? They're not the majority of America.

MAHER: No, I don't think he was. I know that when Buchanan was sort of touting his book where he was soft on Hitler, to say the least, McCain condemned him for that. George Bush said, I don't want to alienate anybody in the Republican Party -- like who?

KING: Except the log cabin.

MAHER: Eighty-year-old guys living in Argentina? I mean, you know, how tepid does the water have to be before you step in there and condemn Hitler?

KING: Tucker, both of these latest polls -- we'll get the opinions of everyone on this -- show it very, very close, maybe even. Does that surprise you?

CARLSON: Oh, no. No, it doesn't surprise me at all. I mean, clearly Bush, you know, was knocked around a lot in the primary. That's to be expected. Nobody has really covered Gore very closely for the past couple months as this McCain thing took off and blew up. Of course, you know, it's eight months out. If there's one thing we've learned -- this has all but true -- in the past couple of months is that nothing is static in politics and the polls will go all over the place before it's over.

KING: Al Franken, what do you make of Kathie Lee Gifford on the ticket with Duke?

FRANKEN: It's a surprise, a woman, you know...

KING: It is surprising, a woman...

FRANKEN: ,,, I think it's part of Duke's appeal is that he's willing to select a woman who's reviled millions and millions of homes.

KING: On that note, we'll take a break. We'll be back with more phone calls. We'll see how serious Mark can be when we come back next, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: People are calling.

Duke, you were governor of American Samoa, right?

DUKE: That's right. Yes, sir.

KING: OK, I just want to get that straight.

DUKE: That's right.

KING: Los Angeles, California -- hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi. Ambassador Duke, what is your opinion of the Monica Lewinsky-Bill Clinton scandal?

KING: Good question. Go ahead, Duke, face it.

DUKE: I think that the Clinton legacy, you know -- I mean, the -- what's going to be left there? Well, he's got library going for him. You know, you can have a train wreck of a president, you still get a library. And I think...

KING: Right.

DUKE: ... what I would advise, the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library and Petting Zoo. That's what I would say. And I'm not making a cheap joke about Monica Lewinsky and interns, I mean real, live little fluffy animals for a draw, you know, something for the entire family. He needs some good image improvement, and I think that could do it. I'm trying to help him out here.

KING: Not a bad thought. What's the Lewinsky affect, Al? Do you think -- there's a rumor now that he might be indicted after he leaves office. What do you make of that?

FRANKEN: Well, that's stupid. He's a great president. He had sex with an intern. Jefferson had sex with a slave -- much worse. I'll tell you why: Slavery is wrong, I believe, at least in principle.

Two, when you have sex with a slave...

KING: At least in principle.

FRANKEN: When you have sex with a slave, I think it sends a terrible message to the other slaves. You know, they're thinking, sure, Sally gets to work in the house. She's having sex with the master. I mean, that's creating a hostile environment.

KING: Good point.

FRANKEN: But he's considered a great president. I don't see why simply having sex with an intern would disqualify him.

KING: Tucker, have you got a...

DUKE: Al's got a lot of good ideas there.

KING: Tucker -- you're swinging over to Al -- Tucker, he'll get a library, too, right? Everyone gets a library.

CARLSON: Yes, I mean, I must say it will be nice when he's gone because we won't have to listen to insane non sequiturs like the one we just heard about the slave. I mean, you know, I think, people -- even people who like Clinton personally and support his policies will breathe a deep sigh of relief when he's gone, because it's just been so embarrassing and having to defend him all the time. God, it must be awful.

MAHER: How ridiculous. People are looking for a third Clinton term to keep this fantastic economy going. And it's not a non sequitur that Jefferson had sex with a slave.

DUKE: Of course it is.

MAHER: Yes, other presidents have had mistresses. Kennedy killed his and Jefferson owned his. Clinton made the mistake of just having sex with his.

KING: Why is it...

DUKE: He killed her?

KING: Why is it a -- who did he kill?

MAHER: Marilyn Monroe?

KING: Oh.

MAHER: Sorry.

KING: Come on.

KING: Who -- why is it a non sequitur, Tucker? CARLSON: Well, it's a non sequitur because, I mean, first of all nobody knew that Jefferson was having an affair with his slave at the time. And I think that's significant...

KING: Only if you know?

CARLSON: ... because the country wasn't subjected to it. So in sort of a moral vacuum the two may be equivalent or Jefferson may be worse, but the point is in its fact the Clinton behavior had a much, much worse effect on the country. And that's what we're talking about is how it affected everybody else who lives here.

FRANKEN: I'll defend...

MAHER: But the country wouldn't have been affected.

FRANKEN: I'll defend Tucker. It was an insane non sequitur.

CARLSON: Yes, thanks.

KING: Al, where are you tonight, Al? Did you fall down on your way into the studio? I mean, you're up and down. You're all over the place.

CARLSON: You been drinking again?

FRANKEN: No, I'm in your studio in New York.

KING: OK, all right, I'm only kidding.

All right, now you're still mad, Maher. I want to get Duke's thoughts on this. You're still mad.

MAHER: I'm...

KING: You've been mad walking in here tonight.

MAHER: I don't know about what, but just give me something. I'll be mad about it.

KING: Duke?

DUKE: Yes?

KING: Do you promise in your administration that you will never have -- well, you're not married so you can have, I guess, a relationship?

DUKE: Well, yes, I can.

KING: I was going to ask you to make a promise, but Maher would say I have no right to even ask you that.

DUKE: The only thing I promise is that I will never stand up in public and sing "Ol' Man River." That's it. That's the only promise I'm making right there. That's it. MAHER: I don't know...

KING: I don't understand.

OK, all right.

DUKE: That was a non sequitur.

KING: An insane non sequitur.

DUKE: An insane non sequitur.

KING: Fontana, California, caller. Fontana -- hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry, I'd like to say great show. I'd also like to ask Ambassador Duke, is it depending on the amount of contributions that you would make what position you have...

KING: You mean he would get? All right, how dependent are you on financial -- in other words, can you be bought?

DUKE: Well, "bought" is not a great word. But let me tell you, I'm a big believer in campaign finance reform. And what I think by that...

KING: How so.

DUKE: Yes, well, if you want to take -- no one's going to die from, you know, a badly run campaign. If you want to take $400,000 from Phillip Morris, do, you know? A fund raiser from Buddhist monks, great, knock yourself out. I say announce your sponsors, put their logo on the side of your bus, your forehead, anywhere you want to. Just let people make up their minds about the company you keep or the company that keeps you. I mean, if they hate your backers they won't vote for you...

MAHER: Right on.

DUKE: ... and if they love them, you're in.

KING: Wait a minute.

DUKE: I'm in negotiations with tasty, refreshing Lipton tea to be the official stimulant of the Duke 2000 campaign.

KING: Wow.

DUKE: Now that's tea. Try some today, Larry.

KING: Maher agrees with you.

MAHER: I do.

DUKE: There you go.

MAHER: Every politician takes money -- he's right... DUKE: Yes.

MAHER: ... and then is owned by those two people. The only two who took money and double-crossed the people who gave them money, Kennedy double-crossed the Mafia, Huey Long did it to Standard Oil. They both got shot. You make you're own decisions.

KING: Boy, Maher, you really...

DUKE: Al, you're in the Cabinet.

KING: But you favor a candidate running...

DUKE: I mean, Bill, you're in the Cabinet.

KING: ... like Busch beer...

MAHER: I did that...

KING: ... on his head.

MAHER: I had a jacket made up -- we did this is '96. I'm going bring it back this year -- where we put all the logos of different companies that give money to the candidates, just like tennis players have to wear -- if they're sponsored by McDonalds or Nike, they've got to wear it. I think that politicians should have to wear it on their jacket as well.

KING: Tucker, Duke is unashamed to say he'll take the money and even hang out a slogan on himself. Maybe we should have a...

DUKE: Tattoo, right there, right there.

KING: Do you think politicians should walk along and say, I'm for Standard Oil?

CARLSON: Oh, sure.

DUKE: Absolutely.

CARLSON: I mean, I love lobbyists for one thing, so I, you know, I don't have any problem with that at all -- totally appealing people, buy you lunch, I like them. No, I'm totally for it. I think he's going to have trouble with the women vote, though. Big gender gap for him. He's sort of got this leering, last-guy-in-the-bar, look-down- the-front-of-your-dress quality that I think is going to turn off women big time.

KING: Franken, are you for campaign finance reform, Al?

FRANKEN: Well, this is very similar to McConnell's plan, which is do whatever you want and full disclosure. I'm for real campaign finance reform.

KING: Which is?

FRANKEN: I don't know what that is, but I'm for it.

KING: And join the long list of others who are fighting in the same concept.

By the way, Governor Bush will be on this show tomorrow night. I guess it's equal time with Duke.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are obliged to give you this. If you want more information or help out the Duke campaign, you can knock in -- plug into Duke2000.com, Duke2000.com. He's officially in the race for the Reform Party nomination, replacing Trump.

DUKE: We're giving stuff away there.

KING: Herndon, Virginia -- hello.

OK, you can get stuff free on the Web site.

Herndon, Virginia -- hello.

CALLER: Hello, I'd like to ask Ambassador Duke who he likes in the New York Senate race, Hillary Rodham Clinton or Rudy Giuliani?

KING: Fair question, Ambassador Duke. You can give us a direct answer: Giuliani or Clinton?

DUKE: Let me say this about Hillary. A lot of people put her down, but the lady's tough -- and I mean tungston (ph) tough. You can be at a reception, and you look at her wrong, she'll reach over and just -- while smiling at you -- reach over and flick out one of your eyeballs and drop it right into your drink like a baby onion. Aside from the loss of...

KING: So you're for Giuliani?

DUKE: No, no, Hillary. I like her. I respect her.

KING: You're for Hillary?

DUKE: Have to, she's tough, yes absolutely.

KING: How about Rudy?

DUKE: She's a tough lady. Rudy is tough, too. The guy's a pit bull, but I think he's a little too mean. Like I say, compassionate fascism. And I think he's not that compassionate. He's got the fascism going but not the compassion.

KING: OK...

DUKE: You know, that's what I want to get to.

KING: Palm Beach, Florida -- hello.

CALLER: Hello, Ambassador Duke. I'm a true fan of yours and I've been following your career for many years. I was wondering, what are you going to do about the drug war? Prices keep going up and the average American is barely afraid to score. I mean, a quarter of an ounce costs what an ounce used to cost five years ago.

KING: Mark pointed that out earlier. Would you make it easier for Americans to get drugs?

DUKE: Well, you know, my policy on this is I think you could do drugs as long as you keep your grades up. You know, and maybe that's a bad answer -- I don't know.

KING: Franken, do you agree with that?

DUKE: I don't know. I don't really know. I don't control the drug market. I'm just a little teeny guy at the end of the chain.

KING: OK, but no, let's get the input of our panelists.

Franken, supposing you take drugs but have high grades?

DUKE: Are you asking me that?

FRANKEN: No, no. And let me tell you why.

KING: OK.

FRANKEN: It would cause more drug addiction.

KING: Are people desirous of high grades? Yes, makes sense.

Mr. Carlson, I know that many conservatives -- and you are certainly that -- favor the legalization of drugs. Do you?

CARLSON: I don't think so, no. I don't favor the legalization of drugs. I -- I mean I -- I would sort of go with if you can keep your grades up, it's not as bad as if you fail out of school...

KING: You like -- that's not an insane concept.

FRANKEN: But no, I don't -- right, I mean, just given the level of self-control most people have, probably a bad idea to legalize it.

KING: And now our angry panelist -- Mr. Maher.

MAHER: Well, what about liquor? That's a legal drug. Tucker, what about that? I mean, why should somebody...

CARLSON: Just in under the wire, Bill. It's grandfathered out.

MAHER: Why should somebody be in jail for twisting up a fatty to watch Nick at Night while you can sit home with a scotch?

CARLSON: Yes, that sounds awfully personal, Bill. MAHER: I'm just asking a question.

KING: Ah, hostility among the panelists.

CARLSON: That's -- no, that's actually, it is a good question. And it's hard to defend on the basis of logic, but I suppose that the argument would be -- gee, you know, it's already illegal.

MAHER: But that's why you have "The Weekly Standard" to write in.

CARLSON: That's right.

KING: It's hard to defend on the basis of logic.

MAHER: That is fantastic.

KING: That one's going down...

MAHER: I've got to use that line.

CARLSON: But not everything should be decided by logic. I mean, some things you just get the sense, well, things would probably fall apart if everyone had access to cocaine all the time. I don't know. You just sense that's true.

MAHER: That's an amazing statement: Not everything should be decided by logic. Some things are just because...

KING: They are.

MAHER: ... that's my taste.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments, including a final word and comment from Duke, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: "The New York Times" printed it this Sunday. You call this race between...

MAHER: Bore and Gush.

KING: Bore and Gush?

MAHER: I'm not going to call them what their names are because it's too perfect. It's bore and gush, and I'd like that to catch on.

KING: Do you think, Duke, you might use that?

DUKE: That's a good line, I love that. I tell you, Maher has a Cabinet membership in my administration, absolutely.

KING: You love Maher, I know.

Let me get a call in -- one more call. Norwalk, California -- hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry, how you doing?

KING: Hi.

CALLER: My question's for Bill. Isn't Duke's honesty refreshing?

MAHER: It is...

KING: Bill, let's say something for that.

MAHER: Yes, and in fact in every presidential race there's always a candidate whose honesty is refreshing. Does that candidate ever win? You can name one in every election. Remember Paul Tsongas? His -- he was refreshingly honest. He said, I'm not Santa Claus. And he's not president either.

KING: All right. Al, if that premise is correct, why don't we vote for the truly honest candidate?

MAHER: Good question.

FRANKEN: Because the honest candidate will say what people don't want to hear. For example, John McCain came out against the Confederate flag over the capitol of -- no, he didn't, did he?

MAHER: No, he didn't.

KING: No he didn't.

FRANKEN: OK, well, I -- the point's still the same.

KING: That was an idiotic soliloquy there, Franken.

DUKE: Can I say something here?

KING: Yes, OK -- I'm sorry. Go ahead, Duke.

DUKE: I don't want to -- you know, I think what Americans are looking for in addition to honesty is strength. And I learned that for my own pal Al Haig, you know, secretary of war or something under Reagan -- state, that's right. And, you know, I saw Al Haig get into this altercation with a gentleman, and he wasn't getting the guy's attention. And what he did, he stuck his fingers in the nostrils of the gentleman, he lifted the guy off the ground. He had that guy's attention.

I think that's what I want to do here. I want to stick my fingers in the nostrils of America and lift them off the ground. And that's what -- I'm sorry. That was a bad analogy. I hate it when an analogy gets away from you.

KING: Very bad because I don't think Americans...

DUKE: It's like, man down, man down -- bad analogy. I'm going to stay down. I'm going to stay down. I'm going to take a nap here in the shag carpet.

KING: You stay there until the end of the program. OK, because I want you make a closing statement here, duke.

Tucker, why don't honest people get elected? I mean, totally honest people.

CARLSON: You mean finger-in-the nose candidates like Duke just described?

KING: Yes, finger in the nose, a guy who tells you what it is, tells it to you straight. Why don't we vote for them?

CARLSON: Well, A, I'd say that the conventional explanation that, you know, people want to hear what they want to hear and don't want to hear from people who aren't telling them that is true.

I'd also say, though, that sometimes the straight-talk candidates aren't. I mean, remember Paul Tsongas -- and the Clinton people, for good reason I think, are still mad about from '92, when he went on about how his health was fine, and then that turned out, of course, not to be true at all. So, I don't know. I mean, there's straight talk and then there's the appearance of it. And it's hard sometimes to tell the difference.

KING: And we understand that Duke has left us, so I can give you -- he fell down and he's OK, but he's heading to Minnesota. If you want to help him, Duke2000.com.

What do you make of the candidates going on the late-night funny shows?

MAHER: Well, I notice that...

FRANKEN: I think...

KING: All right, Franken, you first and then Bill.

FRANKEN: I think Bush made a terrible mistake on the Letterman show by doing a show via satellite. I think you'd have to be insane to do a show by satellite.

KING: Like you're doing now is what you're saying? All right, Al, we'll leave it at that. That was so hip they didn't get it. OK, the band didn't get it that was so hip.

DUKE: Can I just jump back in here for a second?

KING: Yes -- you're back.

DUKE: I'm going to be cutting my prices on some fine merchandise on Duke2000, and I'd really like you to...

KING: I thought you were gone.

DUKE: ... click on and buy some junk. KING: OK, buy some junk, 2000, cutting merchandise.

Why are they going on the late-night shows?

MAHER: Well, I have to take this a little personally, Larry. Of course, they don't go on mine, which I think should tell our audience that this is one place where they know they're not going to get their tushy kissed and where they're not going to get softballs and where somebody is going to say something real. And that's why they don't come near my show. Now...

KING: They do Leno and Letterman because it's laughs.

MAHER: Because they'll get exactly what they want. Because they'll get somebody to serve them up a platter to put their lies on. I will not do that. That's why I come on here with you Larry, to get mad.

KING: We're out of time. Thanks, Tucker. Thanks, Al. Thanks, Bill. And thanks, Duke, wherever you are.

Tomorrow night, Governor Bush and Bob Woodward, Jack Kemp and Governor Richards.

I'm Larry King. Good night.

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