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Larry King Live Weekend

John McCain Discusses the Vice Presidential Debates; Don Johnson Talks About the New Season of 'Nash Bridges'

Aired October 6, 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, did last night's friendly fire change any minds about who should be president? We'll ask Senator John McCain, himself a one-time presidential contender.

Plus, the moderator of the vice presidential debate, CNN's Bernard Shaw.

Then we'll hear from veteran political debater Mario Cuomo, Ohio Congressman John Kasich and "U.S. News & World Report"'s David Gergen.

That's not all. Don Johnson talks about his life, his loves, the tabloids and a new season of "Nash Bridges."

All ahead on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening, and welcome to another edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We are at our studios in Washington.

We begin with Senator John McCain. His book, "Father of My Fathers," a runaway best seller in hard cover -- there you see it -- is now out in paperback.

Briefly, it is story of the family, right?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Grandfather, father and grandson, and three...

KING: Military life.

MCCAIN: And three generations of people who were imperfect men who found some ennobling aspects of service to a cause greater than one's self interest.

KING: As you know, one of the best books I've ever read.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

KING: Everyone, if you haven't read it, buy it.

MCCAIN: Thank you, thank you.

KING: How are you doing?

MCCAIN: Doing fine, thanks.

KING: I see the face.

MCCAIN: I'm at the final stages of recovery of a very -- pretty extensive operation.

KING: That scar goes all the way up?

MCCAIN: Yes.

KING: What did they take out?

MCCAIN: They took out the area where the melanoma was on my temple, but then they had to take skin from my neck and bring it all the way up over.

KING: Will that eventually be gone?

MCCAIN: Oh, yes, it will be fine. Yes, it just takes time.

KING: And how are you?

MCCAIN: Fine, fine. Everything is negative, in other words no spreading. But I beg all of our viewers, particularly the fairer the skin, you have to stay out of the sun, wear sun block. And if you have a discoloration anywhere, go see a dermatologist.

KING: Right away. Did you go late?

MCCAIN: No, actually I came in fairly early. It was because I'm checked all the time, and I've been cut in a whole lot of different places. It just happened to turn into a melanoma.

KING: Looks like they got it early.

MCCAIN: Yes, that's the important thing, before it spreads.

KING: What do you make of the developments in Belgrade?

MCCAIN: I think they're very positive. I think it's a vindication, to be honest, about our role both in Kosovo, in Bosnia. And I'm not saying that Milosevic was brought down by it, but I would argue that the fact that we stood up to him and drove his people out of Kosovo was an important factor in his eventual downfall. I'm not sure if he's through, but I kind of thing he is through.

KING: He said he wants to head his own party, right?

MCCAIN: He's -- he's going to -- I think the chances are good that he may spend his time in the docket at the Hague at a war crimes tribunal. That's where he belongs.

KING: Nato a victory?

MCCAIN: Oh, I think so, for NATO and our alliance.

KING: For General Clark?

MCCAIN: General Clark, I think, is vindicated. But the only thing wrong with that conflict is -- and it's a serious problem -- we should have gone in with whatever is necessary. By only bombing, we allowed Mr. Milosevic to inflict much greater ethnic cleansing, rape and genocidal acts. We shouldn't have just confined it. We should never have ruled out ground operations, but the fact is that we won, and the Clinton administration deserves credit, as well as the men and women in the military and General Clark as well.

KING: Who won the debate?

MCCAIN: I think that Cheney came -- did very well. I think both of them did very well. They're both very good friends of mine. I was pleased at the level, I was pleased at the exchange. I thought that they treated each other with the respect that they deserved, and yet at the same time drew some differences that people could put their teeth into. I was very pleased, and I think most Americans liked it.

KING: Was it a stark difference from the presidential -- first presidential debate?

MCCAIN: Well, I think I agree with most observers that it was perhaps the setting and the more relaxed kind of setting, whatever it was, but I think most people, were far more -- better illuminated by the debate last night. But we'll see what happens in the debate here next Wednesday.

KING: Close election?

MCCAIN: Yes, close election, House -- trifecta, presidency, House and Senate, all in play.

KING: Senate will be close, too.

MCCAIN: Senate's in play.

KING: We will be up late on the 7th?

MCCAIN: I believe so, and I think we may see some surprises, because I think this is very close. The House -- control of the House could rest in California, four or five seats that are in play in California.

KING: So we'll be up late?

MCCAIN: Absolutely.

KING: You'll be out on the hustings?

MCCAIN: Been out, am out, with Rick Lazio tomorrow in New Jersey and going to go on the Columbus Day parade, that will be fun, with Rudy and with Rick.

KING: Oh, you'll be in the New York Columbus...

MCCAIN: It will be a lot of fun. It's a great experience.

KING: But your name doesn't end in a vowel. You've got to add a little touch there, John.

MCCAIN: I'll -- I'll try to put on some kind of Italian-American airs.

KING: Before we let you go.

MCCAIN: Yes?

KING: We know you were a little angry walking in tonight.

MCCAIN: Yes.

KING: What passed today in your committee and your own party is holding up?

MCCAIN: After these terrible Bridgestone/Firestone rollover accidents, where over a hundred American citizens have been killed, we passed a -- we passed a bill two weeks ago through the Commerce Committee that has the support of the administration, the secretary of transportation, all public advocacy groups -- actions that have to be taken to try to prevent these tragedies from continuing.

We couldn't get it to the floor of the Senate, because it's being held up by senators. They won't -- who will not reveal their names. And we can't take up this legislation. We are going to be out of session, and we are going to put further American lives in further and greater risk.

KING: Are the senators in your party?

MCCAIN: Yes. The Democrats allowed the -- allowed the bill to go forward. Republican...

KING: Are you disappointed?

MCCAIN: Absolutely.

KING: Shocked?

MCCAIN: Oh no. But, you know, we are talking about lives here. We're not talking about a policy matter.

KING: What it would require, recording of the...

MCCAIN: And the -- the automobile industry has contributed around $10 million already to both parties, mostly to Republicans, in this case, just as the unions have contributed more to Democrats. But it's another argument for campaign finance reform.

KING: And, basically, John, what does the bill say?

MCCAIN: The bill says that we improve standards, we would get information from overseas. There are penalties for people who knowingly withhold information. It was a bill that was put together. Senator Hollings and I and the whole Commerce Committee, all 20 of us, we've reported out 20 to nothing. It deserves to be passed.

KING: What's the argument against it?

MCCAIN: You'll have to ask the anonymous people who are blocking it, who refuse to come forward.

KING: But you know they're in your party?

MCCAIN: Yes, because the Democrats voiced no objection. Remarkable.

KING: Is there hope?

MCCAIN: Well, I hope that the -- that American public opinion will demand that we act on this legislation before we go out of session, because months will go by before we could act. And we need to act. We need to try to save American's lives.

KING: Always good to see you, Senator.

MCCAIN: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Be well. Stay healthy.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

KING: And "Faith of My Father's" is now in paperback. It deserved all the books it sold in hardcover -- should be a runaway in paperback, as well.

The guy who did a terrific job last night: We are going to spend some minutes with our Bernie Shaw -- right after this.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNARD SHAW, MODERATOR: Have you noticed a contradiction or hypocritical shift by your opponent on positions and issues since he was nominated?

DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we've been trying very hard to keep this on a high plane, Bernie.

(LAUGHTER)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Bernie.

(LAUGHTER)

CHENEY: I do have a couple of concerns, where I liked the old Joe Lieberman better than I do the new Joe Lieberman. Let me see if I can put it in those terms. LIEBERMAN: Al Gore and I agree on most everything. We disagree on some things, and he said to me from the beginning, "Be yourself. That's why I chose you. Don't change a single position you have." And I have not changed a single position since Al Gore nominated me to be his vice president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIEBERMAN: My 85-year-old mom gave me some good advice about the debate earlier today. She said, "Sweetheart," as she is prone to call me, "remember, be positive and know that I will love you no matter what your opponent says about you."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: And I, too, want to avoid any personal attacks. I promise not to bring up your singing. So I...

LIEBERMAN: I promise not to sing.

CHENEY: Good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: One of the great veterans, a guy we're very proud of here at CNN, who anchored our own, of course, election coverage along with Judy Woodruff, who anchors our main newscast every night, and was the moderator for the vice presidential debate, Bernie Shaw.

What, you flew back today? That's it?

SHAW: I flew back late this afternoon. Good to be back.

KING: One plane canceled?

SHAW: One plane canceled in Lexington, but we made it back.

KING: You've done all format debates, haven't you? You've done the podium. Was this the best?

SHAW: Oh, without question, without question. A roundtable, two candidates at a table, you know, it was the shadow element at Centre College last night. When you're sitting next to your opponent, it's hard to bash him over the head, and when you have the kinds of candidates you had last night, men of keen intellect, civility, sensitivity, Washington people who know the system, who love this country, and realize that they've got to engage in dialogue.

American voters are thirsty for information. One of the things I strove to do was ask the kinds of questions that would help these candidates show the stark differences between their positions.

KING: You worked on it a long time, didn't you?

SHAW: On average, I went to bed at 4:00 a.m. every night down there. I think I probably spent an average of three hours on each of the 16 questions I asked.

KING: And how many did you get -- did you not get to?

SHAW: I think about five, but I had those five just in case the senator and the secretary went all the way through without challenging each other in the extra discussion period. I think they did that about three times.

KING: Were you annoyed at some of the press reporting today that they were too nice?

SHAW: No.

KING: That there was no vituperativeness?

SHAW: They were being themselves. At one point during the debate, I had the feeling that I was watching a political, an American political masterpiece being created before my very eyes.

KING: By both being the way they were?

SHAW: By both men being the way they were.

KING: Do you think the public -- how would we know this? Do you think they liked it? Sometimes you can feel that out there. Do you think they liked it out there?

SHAW: Oh, yes. I knew when I arrived in Danville, Kentucky last Monday that my questions had to rise to the level of the intellectual power of these two men, that I had to ask questions and phrase the questions in such a way that they would immediately go to the issues couched in each question.

KING: You didn't allow them to get away with what the presidential candidates did with Jim the first night, which was really go off the wall. They didn't answer a lot of questions, they went to their own speeches. It was press conferences.

SHAW: Share a secret with everyone watching and listening to you. It is very frustrating for a moderator who goes and sits down at a table with candidates who is guided by rules that the lawyers for each campaign, the candidates themselves and the debate commission have hammered out -- I mean, these are tug-of-wars over the size of the table, the rules, rebuttal time -- and then to go into a debate and have these candidates flout the very rules that people spent blood developing, it's very, very frustrating.

KING: Did you have to interrupt at all? Did you feel the need? Not much? SHAW: Not much. There were times when they skated past their time limits. But I was determined -- well, I'll share with you what happened just before we came up on the air for the debate in Danville. I said to Secretary Cheney and Senator Lieberman, I have a lot of ground I want to cover tonight, the American people want information, and you can help that effort by speaking as long as you're allotted, but not overdoing it, not getting bogged down. And twice I think Senator Lieberman, Secretary Cheney wanted to have me invoke the moderator's discretion of OK, extended discussion, two minutes for each of you, and I agreed to that.

I didn't accede to Senator Lieberman's request a second time I think. I said we're going to move along, because I felt that they had covered the points they wanted to.

I -- I was a facilitator last night. I went into the debate moderating it with the conviction that I would pose my question to these men and get out of their way.

KING: And you did, and you're the judge of when they're through. No one else can be the judge, right? And you have to have control. That speech you made to them, if you let them control it out, you're out of 00 a fish out of the water.

SHAW: Well, then a disservice to the American voter is being committed, and I take this bloody seriously, if I can use that expression.

It was an honor to be part of the process last night, to represent CNN, and to do my part as a journalist to enable these fine public servants to speak to the American people, to give them information and to state their positions.

KING: I think on behalf of everyone in the business I congratulate you.

SHAW: Thank you, sir. Good to be with you.

KING: Bernie Shaw. Our panel is ahead. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: Imagine yourself an African-American. You become the target of racial profiling either while walking or driving.

African-American Joseph Lieberman, what would you do about it?

LIEBERMAN: I'd be outraged, and the sad fact is that racial profiling occurs in this country. I have a few African-American friends who have gone through this horror, and you know, it makes me want to kind of hit the wall, because it is such an assault on their humanity and their citizenship. We can't tolerate it anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHENEY: Bernie, I'd like to answer your question to the best of my ability, but I don't think I can understand fully what it would be like. I try hard to put myself in that position and imagine what it would be like, but of course, I've always been part of the majority. I've never been part of a minority group. But it has to be a horrible experience.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE in our studios in New York the former governor of the state of New York, Mario Cuomo. Always good to have him with us. And here in our studios in Washington, D.C., Representative John Kasich, the Republican of Ohio, who will be leaving the House for bigger things, we hope, and David Gergen, editor-at-large, "U.S. News & World Report," and author of the best seller on "The New York Times" list "Eyewitness to Power," and it deserves to be there.

How do you rate last night's debate, Governor Cuomo, on a scale of 10? High?

MARIO CUOMO (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: I would rate it high, yes. I wish we could have another one. I think we need a lot more. One of the difficulties with the debate is it doesn't cover enough of the issues.

I'm delighted that they are on issues now not on president Clinton. And I think that's an advantage for America, and a particular for the Democrats.

But so many issues haven't been reached yet, and so many of the issues that they touched weren't developed. For example, the -- Secretary Cheney's answer on racial profiling was touching, but he didn't say what they would do about it.

I think the two issues that Senator McCain raised this evening deserve attention. How far will you go in protecting the private sector from government? Do nothing about Firestone? Do nothing about campaign financing? And so on and so forth.

So I think it was a good debate, a really good debate and good for America. But I think we need more of it.

KING: John.

REP. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Well I think it was an excellent debate, Larry. I think people really enjoyed it. It was really a debate of great substance. And, you know, from my perspective, I think the quiet conversation allowed them to really present two different points of view.

I thought that Dick Cheney, you know, he surprised a lot of people who didn't know much about him. I've known him for a long time. I think he was so effective in talking about tax cuts and contrasting it with Al Gore's plan. He said at one point, you need a CPA in order to figure out what Al Gore wants to do. I think he was very effective talking about defense. After all, Cheney, being the secretary of defense, In think did an outstanding job.

It was a highbrow, high-level debate.

KING: Before I ask David, it's impossible, though, for you and Mario to watch a debate objectively. You are not among the undecided. No one swayed you last night. Your vote was not changed, correct?

KASICH: Well, you -- yes, and you feel like -- you're like the guy in the stands saying, throw it out to the left instead of out to the right, yes.

KING: Mr. Gergen, who has served Democratic and Republican presidencies and who has that nobleness about him, how did you rate it?

DAVID GERGEN, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": Five-star debate, one of the best in the history of presidential debates.

KING: Because?

GERGEN: Because these men were civil, they were gracious, they were informative, and they talked to us like serious adults. And that was a welcome change from much of what we've seen the past years.

KING: Bernie set the tone for that, tight?

GERGEN: Bernie set the tone, but I think he may really have transformed the whole debate process last night with -- and the two men who engaged in it. Larry, this is -- the next debate, obviously, is going to be around a round table, a la Larry King style, the same sort of format that we saw last night. I think it puts real pressure on both the vice president and the governor to perform at the same level. It raises the bar for the discussion for the next time around. And I think that, to go to Governor Cuomo's point, yes, we didn't hear all the answers last night, but we still have three hours to go. That's a long time.

KING: And maybe they'll do another one. Maybe there will be others...

GERGEN: Maybe they could do another one.

KING: They don't have to do it there. I mean, they could do more than the commission recommends.

KASICH: Don't bet on it.

KASICH: I wouldn't think that would happen. I think they're going to be focused on these next two, and then they'll probably move on.

I would like to make one point. I think Mario would probably agree with this. Everybody was complimenting them because there wasn't sharp disagreements, but I'd like to point out to people that in politics there isn't anything wrong with sharp disagreements. I think what happened last night is they were civil to one another. But sharp disagreements are the name of the game in terms of how you want to run this country.

KING: There were some critics, Governor Cuomo, saying today that they wanted sharper disagreements. They wanted Cheney to be on the attack more.

CUOMO: Well, I think if you got into more detail, you would get sharper disagreements. Let's take an example: education. They haven't begun to explore the education issue. The questions that they might ask is the General Accounting Office says you need $150 billion just to repair public schools. Now let's make it $100 billion. How much are you willing to invest in that? How much are you, Governor Bush, willing to invest and you, Vice President Gore?

Now it's not a realistic argument to talk about standards and then not talk about what investments precisely you will make. Now that hasn't been touched, and we ought to do it...

KING: All right...

CUOMO: And there are other issues like that. What about the 45 million...

KING: Don't you...

CUOMO: What about the 45 million people without health care?

KING: David, don't you expect...

CUOMO: What do you do after you do child health plus?

KING: David, don't you expect that to come up next Wednesday?

GERGEN: I think we've already heard...

KING: I mean, we've just started.

GERGEN: I think we've already heard some of that, but let me say this.

CUOMO: I'd love to hear the answer then, David, if you've heard it. What is it?

GERGEN: OK, well let me just say...

CUOMO: What's the answer on education?

GERGEN: Well, let me just say a couple more things.

CUOMO: Right.

GERGEN: Listen, there were serious differences between these two men last night, very deep, philosophical differences, just as there are between Al Gore and George Bush. What I think was good about the debate was it was this classic thing, they could disagree without being disagreeable. And I think a lot of the press was a little unhappy because there were no personal jibes. We didn't have anybody going for blood. We like the sharks in the water going for the blood.

KING: The tabloids were depressed.

Let me get a break. We'll come back with more on the discussion about the debates.

Still to come, Don Johnson.

Tomorrow night, Liz Smith will be with us.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIEBERMAN: I think if you ask most people in America today that famous question, are you better off today than you were eight years ago, most people would say yes. And I'm pleased to say -- see, Dick, from the newspapers that you're better offer than you were eight years ago, too.

CHENEY: Most of it -- and I can tell you, Joe, that the government had absolutely nothing to do with it.

SHAW: This question is to you. But...

LIEBERMAN: I can see my wife, and I think she's thinking, gee, I wish he would go out into the private sector.

CHENEY: Well I'm going to try to help you do that, Joe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: John, what about -- let's reverse this. What about Mister -- Senator Lieberman impressed you last night?

KASICH: Well, he's got a good personality, and I think that's what really went over. You know, he's obviously a very thoughtful guy.

Larry, I think the next debate is going to be essential. And to me, what George Bush is going to try to say is that we want to run the country from the bottom up, not from the top down. We want parents to have choice on education. I loved the debate on Social Security, that we've got to give young people and all of us the ability to direct some of this money into the economy.

KING: Because you agree with it.

KASICH: Well, sure. There's no other way out of this box, though. Education, you know, do you give people choice? What do you do with the tax cuts to people? Do you give broad-based cuts or do you target them? This is going to be the gist of the next debate, and I think it's going to be a pretty aggressive debate. George Bush is going to have to explain why he's cutting taxes for everyone, including people at the top, which I think he can do. And I think Al Gore is going to come at him and say, no you can't. It's going to be very interesting.

KING: Governor Cuomo, what about Dick Cheney impressed you?

CUOMO: Well, nothing new. I mean, Dick Cheney is a very intelligent, very experienced, good communicator, easygoing. Obviously very good on humorous repartee. He got off two really good one-liners there. So there was no surprise.

You know, I think -- I'm trying very hard to be objective here. Dick Cheney is so much more formidable in so many ways than George W. Bush. He gets points for selecting Cheney, but he makes Bush look bad.

On the other hand, Lieberman is very much like Gore with a kind of smooth schmaltz added. And I think it comes out better for Gore than it does for Bush.

KASICH: It's funny, we were saying the same -- in the Republican cloak room today, we were saying that Joe Lieberman sure makes Al Gore look bad, so I guess, you know, we can't shed our party.

CUOMO: Well then the question is...

KING: A lot of people were saying today maybe the tickets should reverse -- what? What?

CUOMO: Well then the question is, who made who look worse? You know...

KING: When we come back, we'll pick it up with David Gergen's thoughts. Got to take a break again. We'll be right back.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: David Gergen, we don't have the figures yet for last night. But the presidential debate, they said 80 million were going to watch; 46 million watched, half of what watched President Bush, Ross Perot, and Bill Clinton eight years ago.

GERGEN: Yes, if you add up the two debates this week, they would probably come out to less than the people who watched that first debate.

KING: So what does that say to us?

GERGEN: I think the people are much more disengaged from politics today than they were eight years ago.

KING: Disengaged? GERGEN: Disengaged. I think that's particularly true of the younger generation, you know, which just has not -- is walking away from politics in droves -- very idealistic generation that doesn't see government or politics as the answer. And I think that's something that -- somebody has got to light that flame of idealism to bring them back.

McCain was starting to do that. I think it -- he proved that you can do it. He got the turnout up in some of those primaries. But, you know, and so -- I don't think it's going to happen in this campaign, Larry. I think the real challenge now -- I'm really worried about not who is going to win, but whether the winner can govern.

Can the person who comes out of this govern this country ? Can the person who comes out this lead this country well? And I'm not clear that we are heading in that direction.

KING: Where are you, John?

KASICH: Well, I think that's one of the positions that Governor Bush can stake out. You know, he had so many Democrats in the hall the night he debated, he's been able to prove he can work with Republicans, Democrats. And I think that's a very powerful pitch. And I think he needs to stay on that pitch and to make it clear that, while the administration couldn't do prescription drugs, they couldn't figure out how to do welfare reform until we beat them over the head a couple times, George Bush has been successful in being able to rally bipartisan support for his programs.

The other thing, though, Larry, is David makes a good point: People are more cynical today. They don't trust politicians. They think the powerful interests, special interests dominate too much. Frankly, they're right in a lot of ways. And it is going to take special people to be able to engage the young people again and call the better side of them. And we can -- I -- it can happen.

CUOMO: Well...

KING: Governor, why do you think so much less watched than they anticipated?

CUOMO: Well, I'd like to answer that. But first let me make the point about Congressman Kasich's point about not being able to get consensus. If you're right, John, then the president and Al Gore, all by themselves, took this nation from terrible deficits to huge surpluses, without getting any votes from you Republicans in the Congress --

Either that -- if you want to share the economic success, you had better admit that the president was pretty good -- and so was Gore -- at getting you to agree to things. So you can't have it both ways. And, as to Governor Bush being able to handle his legislature, they're all conservative in Texas: the Democrats and the Republicans -- no trick getting those people to agree.

As to why the country is turned off: The successful people, a very small percentage of us all -- the really wealthy -- there are 5 percent above a $100,000 a year -- we are content that the economy is good, whatever the Republicans do. The people in the middle, 135 million workers who are low- and moderate-skilled, who aren't going anywhere, they are working. But the increase in their wealth every year doesn't equal the costs they have to pay -- nobody is making the pitch to them to excite them.

KING: Well, why didn't...

CUOMO: And everybody has left out the poor. So most of the country is not engaged. You didn't talk to them yesterday. You're not going to talk to them in the next debate. And so you're talking to the comfortable people.

KING: You don't agree there.

CUOMO: And they don't think you're relevant.

KING: David?

GERGEN: Listen, I think that the country is a lot better off today -- and a lot of middle-class people are a lot better off than they were eight years ago.

KING: So why didn't they all watch the debate?

GERGEN: Because I think they're just disengaged from politics. But, you know, there are -- the unemployment numbers came out today.

KING: Low.

GERGEN: Low unemployment: 3.9 -- the lowest for African- Americans in the history of the recorded statistics. You know, people are better off. The tide is starting to lift. It's come late. And there's a widening gap.

KING: So why isn't Gore 100 points ahead?

GERGEN: Because I don't -- I think he has got a great case to argue. And I think people are not quite sure they trust him yet.

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: Larry, let me just respond to Mario. We didn't have the great debate last night. We can have a little one tonight. We passed welfare reform twice. The president vetoed it both times. And when he knew that we were pulling the blue-dog Democrats, people like my buddy, Gary Condit, along, the president saw the handwriting on the wall and he signed a welfare bill that virtually the entire Democratic Party was opposed to -- and I'm sure my friend, Mario Cuomo.

In terms of the balanced budget, let me just tell you: I sat in the meetings, Larry. I was there in '95, and '96 and '97. Al Gore was as interested in balancing the budget as he was flying to the moon. He's always been interesting in spending, new programs, new initiatives. My only point is: They complain about prescription drugs. They talk about they need to have them. They couldn't pass them.

They say we don't have good schools. They've been in charge for eight years.

CUOMO: Well, John...

KASICH: And I think that's a very legitimate point. They've had a tough time. And we've dragged them to a lot of these beautiful goals.

KING: We don't have

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: John, what -- what prescription drug bills did you give the president? You could have done it without him. The reason you didn't do...

KING: Did you give him a bill?

CUOMO: The reason you didn't do prescription drugs is...

KASICH: Well, I will give him an answer.

CUOMO: Excuse me, John. Excuse me. The reason you didn't do it is you didn't have the money, because in the first years, you had deficits. The surpluses are recent. Now, thanks to Gore -- to Clinton-Gore and the Congress, you do have the money to spend on these things. And now it's time to spend it.

KING: All right. I got -- we are going to have to do a lot more on this. I got time constraints.

KASICH: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Thank you, Mario.

CUOMO: Thank you.

KING: Thank you, John.

KASICH: Thank you, Larry.

KING: I want to hear what's going to happen to you.

KASICH: Mario and -- Mario and I will have a debate.

KING: They'll miss you in the House. Yes. By the way

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: We're going to miss Congressman Kasich. We're going to miss Congressman Kasich.

KING: Ah-hah!

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Right. OK. Kasich vs. Cuomo: You'll hear about it on LARRY KING LIVE. Gergen will be the moderator. I'll take the night off. We will learn a great deal.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: We will be right back with Don Johnson.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: His series, "Nash Bridges," goes into its fifth successful year. He is one of the most venerable stars in the history of television and film. He is Don Johnson.

Were you surprised at "Nash Bridges"' success, by the way? It was a -- what is it? It was a replacement, wasn't it, originally?

DON JOHNSON, ACTOR: Well, yes, it was a replacement. And was I surprised? I wasn't -- I knew we had the goods. And I knew we had the subject matter. And I knew we were in the ballpark about the stuff. But it's kind of an edgy show, in that it's both a drama and comedy all at the same time. And you never know how that's going to play on television.

Fortunately, for us, it's played pretty well.

KING: And it's made San Francisco your home now, right?

JOHNSON: Oh, yes.

KING: Do you like it away from the Hollywood scene?

JOHNSON: Yes. I don't -- you know, Hollywood is very much an industry town. And your life becomes something where you sort -- you get caught up in all of the parties and this list and that list. And that's not something that I respond well to. So being away from Hollywood kind of keeps me clear-headed and focussed into what's really important, into having a life inside of show business.

KING: Yes. Well, we are all very happy for your success, because those who know you know what a good guy you are. Now why are you the subject of "Globe": "Don Johnson's Gay Double Life"? You're in -- you're in -- people who know you got a little charge out of that. But, I mean, why -- why you?

JOHNSON: Well, let's talk about this. First of all, the -- most of the reportage on me over the years has been favorable and very flattering, and this stuff that comes up in the tabloids is something that it's a little disconcerting in that a lot of people mistake it for actual journalism, which, in fact, I don't believe that it is, and I think there's a case to be made that it's entertainment, pure entertainment. And frankly, I want my cut.

KING: But do you have to deny it? I mean, your press agent had to issue that all you were doing were buying some tapes for a gag party, and they report this as a double life, right? I mean, this was an innocent act.

JOHNSON: Oh, yes. Exactly, and I've always been of the opinion that if you lie down with dogs, you get up with flees. So I don't respond to those things.

KING: Do you get angry?

JOHNSON: Only when it hurts -- first of all, I don't read them and that helps a lot. It -- the difficult thing is for people that mistake them for actual journalism and for the truth, and that makes you frustrated, because they -- they have -- they've taken the First Amendment and they've twisted it into a way of making it impossible for you to respond in any kind of dignified manner, because they have, you know, four or five floors of attorneys that -- that do nothing but scrutinize each and every word. And they've sort of made the libel laws impotent.

KING: You were quoted -- I know you got mad at an "L.A. Times" profile of you and you got a little -- and you said, "I'm a simple man with an inordinately complex reputation."

(LAUGHTER)

How does a thing like that happen? In other words, we're back to the "Why you?"

JOHNSON: That's hard for me -- that's hard for me to explain. I think that the -- the mode du jour is if -- that we are -- let me back up here. We gave access to a "Los Angeles Times" reporter that was extraordinary, and it was very, very open. And a lot of the things that were -- that he interviewed me about were taken out of context, and of course, printed in such a way to make me look not like the person that I recognize.

And I hope in my heart -- I don't believe that it was the person that he interviewed, but that's the story that came out. And those things you have no control over, and I just move on and say that one, too.

KING: And also, you were in a major celebrity marriage with Melanie Griffith, and that got a lot of attention, right? And then she went after you got divorced -- and you have great kids there, too, right? And she marries another film star. So it seems like it's a whirlwind with you.

JOHNSON: Yes, it seems that way, but you know, I've made, in all of the years in my relationships with a number of women, I have never spoken an ill word about any woman or any person, and I'm not going to -- and I'm not starting now. Those things just -- those things just happen. They happen to be a difficult and disappointing parts of my life at certain times. But you know, I've always found that if I remain centered within me and stay focused on what's really important -- and that's my love, my wife, Kelley, my children, and my friends, and then comes the business and all that other stuff -- then I do OK.

KING: How are the children, by the way? You have -- what, you have 9 months and what else?

JOHNSON: I have a 17-year-old son who's soon to be 18. He's a freshman in Occidental College. I have a 15-year-old boy, who's at CRMS in Colorado. I have a -- who just turned 11 years ago, Dakota, two days ago, and little Miss Grace, who's 9 months old.

KING: And how do you like having an infant?

JOHNSON: You know, the joy of it is, is that having all these children and having them all together at the same time is such a thrill, and it's the best part of my life really.

KING: Did you ever think, Don, of doing your own book? Your story from you?

JOHNSON: You know, yes, the thought has crossed my mind, although when you get right down to it, you start thinking about all of the things. You know, I am not in favor of betraying friendships and confidences. I think that there is far too much of that that goes on, and I'm not sure that there's that much interest in my life.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Yes, you're just a simple guy.

JOHNSON: Just a simple guy swimming in a sea of sharks.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Our guest is Don Johnson. "Nash Bridges" starts again, goes into its fifth season, an amazing success.

JOHNSON: Sixth.

KING: And of course -- going into its sixth season, five successful years. And of course, his major hit years ago on "Miami Vice."

Don Johnson's our guest. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: Yes. This is Nash Bridges.

STEVE AUSTIN, ACTOR: Hi, Bridges.

JOHNSON: Jake, what are you doing?

AUSTIN: Taking you back to San Francisco.

JOHNSON: Jake, get those off me. CHEECH MARIN, ACTOR: This your boss.

JOHNSON: Are you nuts?

AUSTIN: Hey, I no longer take orders from this man. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Inspector Cross and the mayor's office.

JOHNSON: Jake, stop pulling on me, damn it!

AUSTIN: Come on.

JOHNSON: You better stop pulling on me or I'll knock you out.

AUSTIN: Let go, Bridges, or I'll drag you and that damn machine back to Frisco.

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: Jake, damn it!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with one of the good guys and what a talent: Don Johnson is our guest from San Francisco. Let's take a call, Detroit, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi. Don Johnson, how would you feel about a reunion show of "Miami Vice" and have you kept in touch with the other cast members from that show?

JOHNSON: Yes, I have kept in touch, and actually there's been talk for years and years. I tell you what would work very well with "Miami Vice" is to do a big-time movie version of it and make it a pay-per-view event. I think that...

KING: That could work.

JOHNSON: I really do. I think it could work. We've discussed it. There are ongoing discussions. Of course, there's a lot of people involved. And you know, Philip has been on the show, has been on the show, has been on "Nash Bridges" with -- with Tommy. Tommy and Philip -- Tommy Chong and Philip were both on the show.

KING: I tell you, there was no show like "Miami Vice."

(LAUGHTER)

No, even objectively, we have to say for the impact on the country, for the change it made in American television, for the hit it was, the job you did, Michael Mann -- it was incredible.

JOHNSON: Well, yes, thank you very much.

You know, there's occasionally some forces come together, some chemistry...

KING: That work.

JOHNSON: Yes, that just work. And Michael and I, even though we had monumental battles at the time, it -- he taught me more about film-making and producing. And the -- the fact that I'm the executive producer of "Nash Bridges" is a direct result of having done "Miami Vice."

All I ever wanted to do was be an actor. When you -- when you become the star of a series, you are no longer the child saying, love me, love me, love me. You are the parent.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Lake Placid, New York for Don Johnson, hello.

CALLER: God bless you, Don, Larry and everyone.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Could you comment on the government report on violence in the media and also on a tornado which ripped through Ohio, killing hundreds of thousands of chickens who are...

KING: I don't know about that, but I do know about the violence on television. I don't know about the second part of the question, but the first part is well asked.

JOHNSON: Well, I'm worried about the chickens.

KING: We all are. Too choking to talk about, though.

JOHNSON: Yes, but the thing about the violence on television is I think that there's a good deal of it that's irresponsible. I feel that most of the time -- and I wouldn't say that we're 100 percent exonerated from this area -- but I think that most of the time we build into the storylines a value and verification of meeting force with force and not just gratuitous violence.

KING: So kids grow up with that. It does have an effect, then? You think it does have an effect?

JOHNSON: I think it can have an effect. I think that it's more about parental guidance than it is about regulating.

KING: So you don't favor -- certainly you wouldn't favor a government saying you cannot do this on the air?

JOHNSON: I am seriously opposed to censorship of any sort.

KING: What about -- you knew when you went into the business you went into that your private life becomes a public business. Do you like celebrity, Don? Do you like being recognized?

JOHNSON: That's an interesting question. There is a certain amount of -- I take a little bit of umbrage with that, because I believe that everyone is entitled to privacy on some level, even a public person. And I think that we have overstepped our boundaries into their bedrooms, into their living rooms, into their bathrooms, into places that we do not belong.

KING: Don Johnson, we're going to take a break and come back with some more moments with Don, and we congratulate him on the success of "Nash Bridges," going into its sixth year on television. That's Herculean.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "NASH BRIDGES")

JOHNSON: Party's over, kid.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Nobody lives forever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK, "HEARTBEAT")

JOHNSON (singing): Heartbeat, I'm looking for a heartbeat. Heartbeat, heartbeat, I'm looking for a heartbeat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You going to sing anymore, Don? We just a clip of your video.

JOHNSON: I am. I'm going to -- I have a virtual plethora of songs that I've written over the last four or five or six years, 10 years. And the difference is, is that I'm not going to be -- I'm not going to have that sort of manufactured thing that I was put through before through the -- with the record companies. I'm just going to cut the songs and throw them up on my Web site. And if people like them, they can get them. And if they don't, so -- and that one, too.

KING: What's your Web site?

JOHNSON: Well I have the "Nash Bridges" Web site, but also -- by the way, I wanted to mention. I didn't mean to be flip about the tornado that the lady was mentioning about before. Those are disasters. I grew up around tornadoes in the Midwest and Missouri and Kansas. And those are very tragic events, and I don't want to seem like I took it lightly.

KING: Good point. I just didn't relate to the earlier part of the question, and we (OFF-MIKE)

JOHNSON: I didn't understand it, but I didn't want to be flip about it either.

KING: OK, Augusta, Georgia -- hello.

Oh, you know -- hold on. Do you know your Web site? JOHNSON: Oh, yes, Donjohnson -- pretty simple -- and just look up Don Johnson or "Nash Bridges" or Anamandara, the restaurant here in San Francisco.

KING: Well what's with you and Vietnam? You honeymooned in Vietnam, you have a Vietnamese restaurant. Why?

JOHNSON: Yes, well, my partner, Nick Kelly, and I and a third partner, a Vietnamese national, Tria Dwung (ph) -- oh, that's not her last name. That's not her married name. But we are partners on an island in Vietnam about the size of Manhattan, and I went over there 10, 12 years ago, and I literally fell in love with the culture and the people. They are as much like Americans as -- they reminded me of my hard-working family in southwestern Missouri.

KING: And so -- do you think, by the way, as many think, that that will someday be a major tourist area in the world?

JOHNSON: Well, that isn't the reason that I'm there, but, yes, I do. I think it's probably one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. The people are extraordinary. They're the kindest, most industrious and worthwhile peoples that I've run into on the planet.

KING: Going to do another movie?

JOHNSON: Well, I've made a couple of films while I've been doing "Nash Bridges," and, God willing, if somebody sends me a script that's worthwhile, yes, I'd love to.

KING: You know, you're one of our favorite people, and we're going to see you in San Francisco in a couple weeks...

JOHNSON: well God bless you. I -- you know...

KING: ... It's a big children's event. We'll be up there.

JOHNSON: You know, I'll be there. I'm supporting that. And I'll take you for a ride in the Cuda. And I just wanted to mention that, you know, we're premiering tonight on CBS...

KING: The new season.

JOHNSON: Our sixth season, yes.

KING: Thanks, Don.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Always great seeing you -- Don Johnson.

JOHNSON: You're a gentleman.

KING: You're a good -- one of the good guys -- Don Johnson.

Tomorrow night on "LARRY KING WEEKEND," Liz Smith will be with us. Her book has gone through the roof. And on Monday night, we're going to have a terrific political panel and a terrific movie star, too, that you're going to like looking at. That's all I'm going to telling you. I like a little suspense.

Stay tuned for CNN "NEWSSTAND" with Jeff Greenfield and his annual Friday night get-together.

Have a great weekend and good night.

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