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Larry King Live

Don Imus Comments on Current Events

Aired December 22, 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, the I-Man, Don Imus from his ranch in New Mexico, a full hour of talk, with teeth. Plus your calls, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's always great pleasure to welcome Don Imus, especially at this holiday time of the year, and look at that setting, the fireplace behind him. He's at the Imus ranch in -- it's still Reader's Digest, New Mexico, right Don?

DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, actually, we're in the suburbs of Reader's Digest, New Mexico. Reader's Digest is about 400 yards from here.

KING: Well, who did you sell the suburb to?

D. IMUS: Well, probably you.

KING: I'm a foreman. I feel good. By the way, for those who don't know, Don Imus has the Don Imus Ranch. Each summer, throughout the summer kids come. This was their first are year, kids who are -- have terminal kind of illness, cancer or other kinds, to play with horses and be ranch hands. Well, how would you term the first year, Don?

D. IMUS: Well, it was a great some of the first year. Actually, it's a working cattle ranch and we bring kids out and we actually -- there's no televisions, no telephones, no video games. None of that stuff and we actually put them to work, and they work half day the other half day we try to teach them how to ride horses and teach them how to rope and how to be regular cowboys.

And, of course, the ranch is 50 miles north of Santa Fe, so, there's no -- you know, they don't go to town at night or that sort of thing. So, it's a very remote area, but teach them the value of good, honest hard work and a lot of them haven't done anything other than take their trash out, you know, when their dad wasn't home. So, it's a...

KING: How did the first year go?

D. IMUS: Well just went great. Without exception, the kids would -- they would hide when the -- when the vans were here to take them to the airport, and they'd get attached to their horses. They get attached to the people who work at the ranch, and a number of the kids here -- you know, I didn't know very much about sickle cell anemia, and we have kids with various forms of cancer, and then kids with various forms of blood disorders, sickle cell anemia, obviously, being one of them.

I mean, I didn't realize about the life expectancy that for many of these kids is 30 or 35 years of age, and they were absolutely remarkable kids in terms of their outlook, and how -- great positive attitudes, and they were -- some of the kids with sickle cell and some of the kids with other esoteric blood disorders were kids who were -- is this my son behind me?

KING: Little Wyatt has just walked by. He appears to be without clothing. However, he looks very...

(CROSSTALK)

D. IMUS: Appears to be? Appears to be naked. Anyway, they were kids who were the most enthusiastic. Come here, honey. I don't think you're supposed to be walking around with no clothes on, are you?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: No.

KING: You upper half.

D. IMUS: Where's your mommy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right here. I tried to...

KING: Only with Imus in the Christmas season. That's little Wyatt, the love of his life. Now, you're going to be doing it again this year, right? Actually, this is in perpetuity.

D. IMUS: Of course. This is now my life. Rather than going to the south of France for the summer, which I never did anyway, we're out here -- we are out here every summer with these kids. But it's great fun, and, of course ranch is not really me, it is my wife, Deirdre (ph) and Fred and me and the three of us founded it, and the three of us run it and so it -- it's really a group effort. You know, I get a lot of credit and they call it the Don Imus Ranch, but it really isn't. It's the Imus Ranch and it's a working cattle ranch for kids with cancer, but they play huge role in this.

KING: It's a great idea that works. And now, also, how are you after your injury? I know you did your first show with us when you fell off the horse, are you now totally OK?

D. IMUS: No. My breathing's still -- I'm still in rehab for my breathing. I get short -- I even get short of breath in New York City, which is 270 feet above sea level. Out here, it's about 6,500 feet above sea level. So, I'm working on, you know, without going into a lot of hideous detail, I'm still working on a Stairmaster trying get the muscles around my lungs built up. But I'm -- all of the stuff that I broke is healed up so...

KING: And for all of our...

(CROSSTALK)

D. IMUS: I'm off of the heavy-duty pain pills.

KING: Oh, thank god. For all of our viewers here in the Los Angeles area who miss you now on radio station because the station got sold, can we expect to have you back on the air in L.A. soon?

D. IMUS: I would think so, yes. We're syndicated by Westwood One and we're on about 100 stations around the country. So, occasionally that happens. It happened in Boston, then we went on another station. It happened in Washington, D.C., and we went other on another station. So I would assume we'd be on another station. We make a lot of money for stations, so I would think we'd be on.

KING: In fact, you were on the highest-earning radio station in country, right, in New York -- the FAN?

D. IMUS: WFAN in New York was the first -- it was the first sports radio station; started, by the way Jeff Smellion (ph) of Imus (ph) Broadcasting. You probably know him, great guy...

KING: Very well.

D. IMUS: ... and that was his idea, the original idea for sports radio. And it now continues to be the No. 1 grossing station in America, so.

KING: And now, Don, the most important news of the day, and we'll touch a lot of bases -- your reaction to the Madonna marriage. She married director Guy Ritchie in Scotland tonight; she's 10 years older than him and, as you know, she already has a son by him, Rocco.

What do you make this, Don?

D. IMUS: I talked to my brother. Now, my brother has a television up in the -- what are you doing? Come here.

WYATT IMUS: Hi.

D. IMUS: Hi honey.

KING: Hi.

D. IMUS: Sit on daddy's lap.

W. IMUS: Hi.

KING: Hi.

D. IMUS: You can sit right here. Say, "Hi, Mr. King." Say, "Hi, Mr. King."

KING: Say "hi," Wyatt.

They always do this, don't they -- chance is like this, too. D. IMUS: Yes; you would think, though, Larry, with a nanny and a mommy that they would be able to control him, wouldn't you, while daddy's on television.

KING: Yes, you would think that someone would have him in their charge at this minute.

(LAUGHTER)

D. IMUS: They'd be giving him a bath maybe, or feeding him his dinner.

KING: Then after the commercial break we may be doing something -- I'll tell you what, we'll take a break and we'll come back with the I-man's reaction to the marriage of Madonna; and we'll talk about the presidency and the election and the whole thing with one of the most popular broadcast figures in American history: the I-man, host of "Imus in the Morning."

This LARRY KING LIVE; we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The I-man is also seen; he is broadcast on television by MSNBC every day, as they telecast his live radio show. And he has a son Wyatt and they're all out at the ranch in New Mexico.

And now back to the news of the day. Do you have a reaction to the marriage of Madonna?

D. IMUS: Well, I was just telling the guys here in the crew -- I said one, I didn't know she got married; and two, I just -- I have no interest in her. I mean, I don't have any interest in her -- I don't even know why she got married. I don't know why these people get married -- like Michael Douglas, didn't he just marry Katherine Betamax or somebody? I don't understand that.

KING: Who's behind you now? Is Santa -- who is that?

D. IMUS: I think that's my brother Fred, Larry, unfortunately.

KING: We're meeting the Imus wackos tonight.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Thank God for Christmas.

D. IMUS: I really have to apologize for this, Larry; I mean, I have a family of, really, mental patients.

I say to my -- my wife says to my son, she says, honey you're naked, you can't go on television. He's 2 1/2 years old, he says to her, I want to go on television naked. I mean...

KING: Fight back. D. IMUS: I like -- I mean, Madonna's fine, but one, I didn't know she got married, I don't know who she married -- you said somebody she was 10 years older than?.

KING: Yes, Guy Ritchie, the director.

D. IMUS: Oh, OK, well I wouldn't have a problem with an age difference, seeing that I'm about 200 years older than my wife.

KING: Me, too. But I mean...

D. IMUS: Yes, so...

KING: Why does Madonna fascinate so many people, do you think?

D. IMUS: Well, you know just from a -- from a fundamental assessment of her abilities, I always thought she made pretty good records. So I don't know what that has to do with anything, but I think fundamentally she's pretty talented. And she's managed to market herself fairly well, so -- but I have no idea, Larry. In the world -- in the world of things I think about, she's not one of them.

KING: Me, too.

D. IMUS: I mean, she's a nice lady...

KING: Nice lady, I've had her on...

D. IMUS: ... and I hope she's fine...

KING: She's been on this program...

D. IMUS: I know you have.

KING: ... she's a good interview, but you're right...

D. IMUS: God bless her baby.

KING: ... she ain't high on the list.

OK, now we move to the president granting Christmas pardons today. Fifty-nine people got pardoned, including Dan Rostenkowski. We expect some more pardons tomorrow in the spirit of the Christmas season. Do you approve?

D. IMUS: Well, I guess I do in Dan Rostenkowski's case. I mean, if everybody didn't know he was a crook going in -- I mean, hello. So, you know, what I mean, nothing should ever happen to him. And the rest of -- I suppose that's probably pretty good idea, you know.

KING: I know how frustrated toy were with the whole election. Every day you were going bonkers as I would listen to you. It really drove you nuts, didn't it, Don? I mean, that really took its toll on you.

D. IMUS: Well I thought for a while, for the first week or two, I thought it was pretty exciting stuff to cover. I thought it was a good -- you know, people were saying, you were saying, other people were saying that it was a great civics lesson. And, you know, it was. It was -- but then it got to a point where it -- where it got to be less about, you know, who ought to be president and more about which team of lawyers are going to win.

And it -- it got -- and there was a point, actually, I remember I was saying to Charles McCarthy (ph), a guy I work with, I said, you know, I think it was the Friday before the second Florida state Supreme Court ruling. And I said, you know, I'm kind of concerned about the wheels coming off of this country. As you know, it's not great when you've got a room full of -- whenever you turn it over to a bunch of lawyers -- I mean, you know, I happen to like David Boies and some of these other guys, but, man, I mean, I'm happy it turned out the way it did.

KING: You were not impressed, though, very, with either candidate, true?

D. IMUS: Well, no. I don't think the country was. I mean, I think that's what got us into the mess we were in. I mean, I don't think either one of them resonated with people.

I'll tell you, I campaigned -- just about voting -- this may or may not be an interesting story -- but I campaigned for Hillary Clinton, for -- because I vote in New York City -- for the Senate for New York. But I...

KING: Why?

D. IMUS: Well, because I think it would be great material. I think it will be great material. I think the day she walked into this -- I mean, she wasn't elected five minutes and Trent Lott already wanted lightning to strike her. I mean, I know he was kidding, but he was probably about half kidding.

And, you know, if Tim Russert has the chance -- has the opportunity to invite any senator from the United States Senate to be on "Meet the Press," it's going to be her. So immediately 99 other people hate her. So I thought that would be good. I liked the idea of the dissension in Senate.

And -- but when I went to vote -- and I voted at 6:00 in morning on the west side of Manhattan. And I got there and the voting booth that I'm supposed to go in and turn the little knobs -- that's our system -- was broken. So the woman says to me, you have to fill out a paper ballot, and I said, all right.

So the ballot was a deal were it has the little oval and you have to color it in with a No. 2 pencil. So I have my hand poised over the oval under her name and I couldn't do it. I couldn't actually bring myself to vote for her. So I voted for that car salesman -- I voted for the car salesman from Long Island or whatever his name was. I don't even remember his name now, but...

KING: Lazio. D. IMUS: Yes, him; I voted for him. But I mean...

King: You mean you so dislike Hillary -- you so dislike her that, even though it would help your program and help all people who make fun of politics everywhere to have someone like that in office, you couldn't do it.

D. IMUS: Yes; I couldn't. So I could understand how people could get in there with, for example these ballots with the chads in them and, you know, poise their hand over the thing and change their mind. I mean, I bet a lot of people did that over these two guys, so...

KING: Our guest is the I-man, the host of "Imus in the morning," syndicated nationally, 10 million radio listeners; also seen on MSNBC. he's at his ranch in New Mexico, which helps so many kids during the summer.

We'll be including a lot of your phone calls and we'll get more opinions from this unusual person on the American scene, right after these words.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: One of the problems people have, Don, is sometimes we never know when you're kidding and when you're serious, right? We don't know how to take it when you -- because you'll knock people you like, you -- Tim Russert, you've called him names. You've called people -- so should we always view the Imus show as a show?

D. IMUS: Yes; Yes, I mean, not that there's never anything serious about it. I mean, we have people like -- some of the same guests you do, not all the guests because they won't come on, but; I mean if we have somebody like John McCain or -- but it's never serious. I mean, it's always just -- I mean, it's not to ridicule people, but it's to get some information and, essentially, to have fun, so...

KING: Were you really mad at Lieberman, for example, one of the most frequent guests on your show, a friend of yours, and you were tough on him.

D. IMUS: Well, I mean, I thought that it wasn't necessary for him to do what he did in order to be Al Gore's running mate -- you know, to turn into Al Gore. I thought, for example -- now this is maybe a petty example, but I think it's a good example.

He goes on Jim Lehrer's show and he says to Jim Lehrer, he says there are 10,500 ballots down in Palm Beach County or wherever that have never been counted. And so he says that five times. Jim Lehrer never challenges him.

So Ben Ginsberg, one of the Bush lawyers asked a reporter -- he said, well if you know that there are 10,500 ballots, somebody must have counted them at some point. And so what Lieberman meant was that there were 10,500 ballots that had never been counted by hand. Well then say that, but don't leave the impression that there are 10,000 ballots sitting on a table someplace that nobody's ever looked at.

John Kerrey -- Democrat from Massachusetts, made the very same point, complaining about the very same issue and said -- and clarified it. He said, we have 10,500 ballots that have gone through the machine, they need to be looked at by hand. Well, I mean, that's an honest way to do it.

But I didn't think he was forthright, I didn't think he was honest. And, I mean, if you changed your position on affirmative action and school vouchers, I mean, it wasn't necessary to do all that.

KING: Why didn't you like...

D. IMUS: Then he...

KING: Go ahead, add on, you're getting going here, I-man, go.

D. IMUS: Well, no, I was just going to say that I -- you know, he also should have resigned from the Senate in New York -- or in Connecticut, rather. But, you know, now poor Al's got to go live in his mother-in-law's house and Lieberman's still got a job and a fancy condo in Washington, so it's not fair, so...

KING: What is your brother doing behind you with that box?

D. IMUS: Fred, get out of here. No, just get out of here. No, I don't want that. Just go away. Larry, I'm very sorry.

KING: Don, would you tell him this program is being seen around the world in 202 countries. This is a serious network. We do have some fun, but would you tell Fred to loosen up.

D. IMUS: I'm really very sorry, Larry. I mean, I have to apologize for my family.

KING: It's OK. It's live television.

D. IMUS: The only one.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Why didn't you like Al Gore?

D. IMUS: Oh, I don't know. I mean I -- you know, every time I go on television talk about why I don't like, it's just some loudmouth disk jockey talking about why he doesn't like Al Gore and it makes me sound mean and it makes -- he's fine. I kind of -- I mean I thought that was one -- that concession speech he gave was one of the greatest speeches I ever heard and when it finished I turned my wife and I said that was great speech. And she said what are you talking about? He had a gun to his head. He had to give it. So, but I...

KING: Can't get a break.

D. IMUS: You know. KING: The Imus man.

D. IMUS: But he's -- he's fine. I, you know, I thought he did a noble thing.

KING: Well, let bygones be bygones.

D. IMUS: I think, you know...

KING: Go ahead.

D. IMUS: We'll talk about Bush when we come back. If you want to.

KING: That's what I intend to do. Yes, bush is next.

D. IMUS: OK.

KING: We'll be right back with Don Imus. At the bottom of the hour, we'll start taking your phone calls for the I-Man or anybody else who's in the picture. Right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're getting, as you might imagine, lots of phone calls and we'll go to your calls at the bottom of the hour on Christmas weekend with the I-Man his ranch. OK, what do you make...

(CROSSTALK)

D. IMUS: I was watching last night when the Grahams were on, and Billy Graham was, of course, an idol of mine when I was growing up. At the end of the show, the Franklin Graham and the daughter they say, Merry Christmas and I'm thinking, this is a Jew from Brooklyn. And Hanukkah was -- wasn't last night the first day of Hanukkah? Hello.

KING: Yes, but they can say Merry Christmas. Christmas is universal, Don. I would say -- you can say.

D. IMUS: I thought it was amusing.

KING: See, that's the things he looks for. OK, what do you make of the president-elect so far?

D. IMUS: well, you know, I -- I think the reason people think he can't read, that he's stupid is because he can't read a teleprompter, but half the people on CNN and MSNBC can't read a teleprompter, and it's their job. You know, they're supposed to be able to do it and they can't do it. So, I don't think he's a bad guy and I don't think he's stupid. He's not going to bring the potato salad to the MENSA picnic, but neither am I. So, I think he's fine. I though...

KING: What do you make of the appointments so far?

D. IMUS: I like Colin Powell. I like -- I think Christie Whitman is good for EPA. Coming from the most polluted state in the union she certainly has great knowledge what that's all about. So, I mean she comes from a state where they buried Jimmy Hoffa in the end zone of one of their football stadiums, so she certainly knows about, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: That's right...

D. IMUS: John Ashcroft, you know...

KING: John, he got beat by man who had passed away.

D. IMUS: Pardon me.

KING: Ashcroft was beaten by a man who died in a plane crash.

D. IMUS: Yes, I know. You know, that was awful. But you know, Charles McCarthy, the guy I work with, went to high school with Ashcroft.

KING: Did he?

D. IMUS: Yes, Charles was stealing cars and playing pool and Ashcroft, of course, was apparently staying over in study hall or something, but I guess that's pretty good choice.

KING: Do you have any concerns...

D. IMUS: I would have liked to have seen..

KING: We are stopping on top of each other. Do you have any -- I was going say do you have any concerns about the Bush presidency?

D. IMUS: Well, no, I think he's probably going to be all right. I think he's going to be better than everybody expects. I mean, I do think he understands that he's not brightest bulb on the block. He's not stupid either, but I think he surrounds himself with good people. I mean, Dick Cheney is a bright guy. Colin Powell is an enormously bright guy and some of these other people. So, I think he'll be fine, I mean..

KING: What did you make of -- back to Hillary, taking the -- getting eight million bucks?

D. IMUS: Hey, man, if she can talk those dummies in Simon & Schuster into giver her that kind of money. I mean, I still owe Simon & Schuster two books. I mean, they'll give money to anybody. So, I mean, I wasn't surprised when I heard it was -- wasn't surprised I heard David Rosenthal Carol Reedy from Simon & Schuster. Those are the two biggest suckers on the planets. I mean, I really owe them two books. I swear to God. For years, you know. And I keep telling them I need more money for research. They write the check out. Good for her, you know. And don't tell them anything. Tell them nothing.

KING: Do you worry or think -- maybe worry is the wrong word -- that Bill Clinton might be indicted after he leaves the presidency? D. IMUS: For what?

KING: For lying to the grand jury. Perjury.

D. IMUS: Oh, please. I mean, what was he supposed to do? What was he supposed to do? Say yes, I was in office with the fat intern and we were -- no what could he say? He had to say what he had -- no, no, they should -- I thought. I always thought that was stupid. I mean, the -- you know. No. One, he shouldn't be indicted and I hope he's not and, you know, I hope guess out and goes to work with Katzenberg or somebody and, you know or whatever...

KING: You think...

(CROSSTALK)

D. IMUS: I guess, I read -- I read Maureen Dowd's column. I guess they're looking for a house in Washington. I guess they're never going to go away, just never. We're just never going to get rid of them, you know, which I guess is good...

KING: They're looking in Georgetown. I think they're going to move into the city, too, from Chappaqua. They're going to go into the city of New York is the word.

D. IMUS: Oh, nobody wants to live in Chappaqua. Nobody. I mean, you know, unless you're running for the Senate you want, you know -- yes, they'll get rid of that dump and they'll be on Central Park West in a heartbeat.

KING: Would you like them in your building?

D. IMUS: Well, they couldn't get in my building, Larry.

KING: Why? They wouldn't be approved?

D. IMUS: Well, no, of course. No, we don't have people like that in my building. Some riff-raff from Arkansas. Hello?

KING: That's right, no chance. We'll take a break and come back and go to your phone calls for the I-Man on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with the I-Man, Don Imus, host of "Imus in the Morning." Let's start including your phone calls. He's at his ranch in New Mexico.

Middletown, Pennsylvania, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Hi, Larry.

KING: Go ahead. Hi.

CALLER: Hey, I-Man. D. IMUS: Hi. How are you?

CALLER: Pleasure to speak with both of you tonight.

I-Man, I've got a good question for you.

D. IMUS: All right.

CALLER: Do you feel that if the economy heads south, does that make George Bush a one-term president and if so, who do you feel the front-runners might be and...

KING: Already we're looking forward. OK, Don, let's say things go bad. Could this be one-term presidency?

D. IMUS: Well, first of all, would it effect Viacom stock? That would be my primary concern.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: And it all comes down to self, doesn't it I-man? OK.

D. IMUS: Oh, it sure does.

I doubt -- I think he's a one-term president anyway, unless he has a remarkable presidency. I mean I think there are so many people who are going to want to get even that I'd be shocked if he was -- I was shocked he actually got elected but, I guess he got elected, right?

KING: Yes; do you see Gore come back?

D. IMUS: You know, I kind of feel sorry for him. I think that's sad. You know -- of course, I'm a sucker for -- if somebody cries or if somebody gives a great speech, or if I meet somebody who I've said something awful about and they turn out to be a nice person, I immediately am a sap.

So I actually felt some empathy and compassion for him, and I don't think he ever wanted to run for the presidency. The one time I had him on, I actually asked him that and there was -- you know, there was enough of a pause that you knew the answer was no. And he'd rather be, you know, writing for "Rolling Stone" or who knows what.

But, I mean, I never thought he actually wanted to do that, and I think that was the reason that he was so willing to, you know, wear khaki suits or not wear khaki suits, or give this kind of speech and not that -- so I don't see him coming back, no, I don't.

KING: Do you think Hillary wants to run for president? She -- on this show she said, absolutely not.

D. IMUS: Well, we know what that means, then.

KING: Old faithful I. D. IMUS: I wouldn't have a big problem were with that, so -- but I would like to see somebody like Bob Kerrey or -- well, I'd like to see John McCain, frankly. Somebody like John, Larry.

KING: You openly -- you supported him, did you not? You were a McCain guy?

D. IMUS: You know, it was muffled, Larry, I couldn't hear what you said.

KING: You were a McCain supporter?

D. IMUS: Yes; I voted for McCain, I wrote his name in.

KING: You did?

D. IMUS: Yes; because I had to -- you know, I had to fill out a paper ballot and it was easy and I just wrote his name in, so.

KING: I wonder if they counted it?

D. IMUS: Well, I don't know.

KING: We'll never know.

Abilene, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Question for Mr. Imus.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: Don, I share your birthday, exact month day and year. And our lives have been similar. I have a question for you. What do you think President Clinton will do when he's out of office?

D. IMUS: Well, I don't know. I guess he's going to work out of his transition office, I read someplace, for about six months. That would be -- so I guess he's still going to be around Washington, D.C., and I guess she has to be there a lot so, I guess he's going to -- I don't know what he's going to do, so.

I don't think it's going to be anything that we all think he was -- I mean, I don't think, for example, he's going to go to work for -- with Jeff Katzenberg and those guys at Dreamworks and I don't think he's just -- I don't think he's going to have a television show on CNN or any other network. And I don't think he's going to -- I think he's got a book to do, which nobody will buy; and I think then he works on the library and he gives a few speeches and he makes Bush nervous, you know.

So, you know who this really is going to irritate is Sally Quinn because -- well, by the way, I love Sally Quinn... KING: Great girl.

D. IMUS: But -- and again, a much better writer than a lot of people think she is. And she is a woman from "The Washington Post," and she all loves us, you know; and she's married to Ben Bradley. But I guess she gives the big parties now in Washington which -- by the way, Larry, I have never been invited to. Of course, I wouldn't go, but I've never been had the pleasure of saying, no, I don't want to go.

KING: What if I got you on the list for the next one, why wouldn't you go? We have great people at those parties, it's a lot of fun. They're just down-home, Don, you'd like it. You could bring your brother.

D. IMUS: No, you can't go to those things; I mean, you can't go. You can't go to any of that stuff.

KING: Why, you can't be friends with these people?

D. IMUS: No, you can't go. You just -- well, you just can't, that's all. I don't even know why, but you just can't go.

I mean, somebody said, I can get you tickets to the inauguration: I said, I don't care, it's on TV, I don't want to go.

It's like going to the Super Bowl. I mean, you can't go to the Super Bowl, I mean, drunks and morons and -- and insurance salesmen go to the Super Bowl. Nobody goes to the -- have you ever been to the Super Bowl? No, I bet you never have.

KING: I've been to two. Well, I used to broadcast Dolphin football. We went to the Super Bowl, I went. It can be fun, Don.

D. IMUS: Well, you were working.

KING: Yes, I was working.

D. IMUS: No, no, no. It's not...

KING: That don't count.

D. IMUS: OK, that's -- but you're not buying any ticket, going to the Super Bowl sitting on the 50-yard line getting drunk. I mean, you're not doing that, screaming for the Lions. Hello -- you can't do that.

But I think it's going to make a nightmare for Sally, because -- because she -- we know she doesn't like the Clintons, because they would never go to her parties, and I don't think she was that chummy with the Gores either. And...

KING: No, the Gores went to her parties.

D. IMUS: Did they?

KING: The Gores were at her -- yes, they went to her New Year's Eve parties.

D. IMUS: I'm very disappointed, Larry. I was just telling the crew, I said, you know, Larry, I'm telling (UNINTELLIGIBLE) about you, what I -- you know, people know I like you. But anyway, I'm very saddened to hear that you went, Larry. That really changes my whole...

KING: And I want to -- wait a minute.

D. IMUS: ... opinion...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Your friend Russert goes -- he goes every other day. He's on the doorstep.

D. IMUS: But we know -- yes, we know where Russert's coming from. I mean, please.

KING: It's nice -- they're nice people. They're friends.

D. IMUS: Well...

KING: Colin Powell goes to these. You like Colin. You'd be welcome there. Honest, Don, you would fit in.

(LAUGHTER)

Bring Wyatt. Bring the wife.

San Diego, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: I would like to ask Mr. Imus if he has any regrets about his appearance at the White House press dinner a couple of years ago, where he skewered the Clintons, and does he think that either one of them will ever go on his show?

D. IMUS: Well, no, I don't have any regrets about it at all. I did think my friend Dennis Miller described it most aptly. He said it was like watching a sweaty train wreck.

(LAUGHTER)

Which I thought was -- but I have no regrets about that. And I -- you know what I got when I nearly died this summer, I got bucked off this horse, I got a very nice note from her wishing that I got well and all this stuff. Of course, that was after she announced she was running for the Senate in New York.

And I wanted to -- and I was on oxygen tank then, and I wanted to burn her letter in the studio, but I couldn't light a match, because the oxygen would blow up. KING: You didn't...

D. IMUS: No, I don't think they will.

KING: You didn't trust -- you didn't think her letter was sincere is what you're saying?

D. IMUS: No. I mean, you get one of those Christmas cards -- well, of course, you do. You probably get a personal one. I get one of those White House Christmas cards that they (UNINTELLIGIBLE) one of those auto-pen deals. They're so irritating, you know, so. But I'm not on oxygen anymore, so I did burn that one.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: We'll be back with more calls for the I-Man on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. And we'll find out what he's going to be doing Christmas day. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Before we take the next call, do you have any special plans for Christmas?

D. IMUS: Well, I wish the banks were open so I could stop payment on all the employees bonus checks...

(LAUGHTER)

... but other than that I don't have any plans.

KING: Don Imus, a bah-humbug kind of guy. You know, one day they'll tell you the truth, that Don Imus is one of the most generous people on the planet. He's a sucker for a hard-luck story. One day the true Imus will be known to all. He's a good guy.

Scottsdale, Arizona, hello.

CALLER: Hi there.

KING: Don't even answer it.

Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: Hi. Merry Christmas to both of you.

D. IMUS: Hi.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: I-Man, I was kind of curious as to your take upon the media's response to Bush's appointments because of their minority nature, even though I think he's surrounding himself with, you know, really qualified people.

KING: What do you make of the media's part in this whole thing? To now, to the election night, the whole story?

D. IMUS: Well, you know, I don't know. That's a pretty good question, which I don't have an answer for or any real opinion about.

(LAUGHTER)

You know -- you know who I was talking to -- I can't identify them, but somebody we mentioned tonight, who told me about the media during this whole 35- or 36-day election nightmare, was how biased -- I mean, we all claim that the liberal media -- well, it's a redundancy that the liberal media is biased, with exception of Fox, of course.

But -- but this is a big-time guy, big-time news guy, said that he was shocked to see how biased some of the some -- some of the network coverage of the election ordeal, I guess is the way to describe what happened.

So, that -- that was one of the more disappointing aspects of the whole -- I know it's not the question he asked, but of the whole election process. And something else that I thought was frustrating -- and there was an article about it in the current issue of "TIME" magazine. And that was election night, of course, we all remember when they all called Florida for Gore and then had to retract it and then yada-yada-yada.

Well, when the Supreme -- when the U.S. Supreme Court decision came out, whether it was 10 o'clock Saturday night or whatever night it was, and...

KING: Tuesday.

D. IMUS: And here you have everybody, all of the people on CNN, you know, poor old Roger Cossack, and then Dan Abrams and Pete Williams on NBC, and whoever the other people were, and Bob Schieffer and all them trying to thumb through this 65-page opinion, trying to decipher what it meant, and then report to us what it did mean, rather than saying, we don't know what it says, we're going to take a few minutes to read it, and then we'll tell you.

But I mean, it was insane. And so here you had on CBS Dan Rather with his pom-poms out for Al Gore waving them in the air, and he signs off at 11 o'clock Eastern Time, saying, I still think there's a glimmer of hope for Al Gore. But Al Gore was a dead man. Everybody knew that.

But you know, so that was one example. Here on NBC they managed -- they had two guys. They managed to figure it out what exactly the opinion meant, and so...

KING: Well, what -- do you think it's all these cable networks that have caused all this kind of we have to get it on quick, we have to analyze it for you yesterday?

D. IMUS: I guess. You know, I mean -- I mean, I don't think -- that probably is why, but it's certainly not a legitimate excuse. I mean, I just thought it was so irresponsible. And you would have thought -- I forget who wrote the article in "TIME" magazine. But you would have thought that they would have learned their lesson from election night.

Rather -- and so, you know, so if you shut the news off, you're watching CBS, you shut the news off at 11 o'clock, you think -- you still think Al Gore has a hope. He doesn't have any hope. Anybody who read that opinion knew he had no hope. But I mean, they're -- they're speculating -- they don't have any idea what they're talking about.

So, that was disappointing. All of that was disappointing.

KING: Farmington Hills, Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Hi, Don.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Don...

D. IMUS: Hi.

CALLER: ... of the plethora of attorneys that took part in the presidential contest down in Florida, I'm curious to find out who you most were impressed with.

D. IMUS: Well, I'm actually a client of David Boies, so I guess I like him. And I'll tell who I also thought was great, I thought Little Richard -- not Little Richard...

KING: Barry.

D. IMUS: The guy who looks like one of the Del Vikings. Barry Richard.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Good guy.

D. IMUS: Howard -- Howard Fineman said he looks like one of the guys from Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons. But...

(LAUGHTER)

I'll tell you who I also I thought was good, was the fat gay who represented Katherine Harris, Joe Klock. Was that his name?

KING: Yes, Klock.

D. IMUS: The guy who misidentified the...

KING: The Supreme Court justices.

D. IMUS: ... Stephen Breyer, I guess. Yes. I thought he was a good lawyer. So those were the -- Barry Richard, David Boies, and -- and Phil Beck. Phil Beck is a great lawyer. Oh, god, he's a great lawyer. So those were the three.

KING: Wait a minute. David Boies is your lawyer?

D. IMUS: Well, yes, I'm a client of his, yes.

KING: OK, do you have problems?

D. IMUS: Well, yes, Larry, I've had a couple of problems, yes.

KING: Oh, good, because David Boies...

D. IMUS: I ran for the presidency of Guatemala, and we didn't like the way the count came out so...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: So Boies, Boies went down there.

D. IMUS: Actually, back in the '80s I ran for the presidency of Colombia.

(LAUGHTER)

But...

KING: And did very well, we might add.

D. IMUS: Yes. Yes, I did.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: We'll be back with more of the I-Man. The things you learn here. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. Peoria, Illinois for the I-Man, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. How are you doing?

KING: Fine.

CALLER: Good. I've got a question for Don about his ranch.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: I was just wondering -- can you hear me OK?

KING: Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: OK, I was just wondering, why is it that he has terminally ill children working on the ranch? Why are they not on their having fun? It seems to me if they're terminally ill, it would be better to have them on there having fun, playing, you know, instead of working.

KING: Fair question. What was the principle, Don?

D. IMUS: Well, they're not -- a lot of them aren't terminally ill, but they are kids who either had cancer or are in remission or have not had cancer. And the decision we made was to -- to teach kids the value of work, and they have more fun working. They get more -- it's a good question. But they have as much fun working and assuming some responsibility.

And by these children, a lot of these kids who have cancer, various forms of cancer, the first thing that happens is that everybody, their parents, all of their peers, the doctors, and everybody else tells them all of the things that they can't do: that they're not capable of doing this, they're not capable -- it's too dangerous to ride a horse, it's too dangerous to work in a garden, it's too dangerous to go out and build fence and that sort of thing. I mean, they may not say those specific things.

So we bring them out here, and we -- I treat them -- we never mention the word "cancer" here. We never mention anything about blood disorders. We never allude to the fact that they're sick. Of course, we have doctors, nurses and child-life specialists here.

But the sense of -- of self-respect that they get, the sense of accomplishment that they get by being able to work, by learning in seven or 10 days how to ride a horse or how to rope, you would be shocked at the remarkable impact it has on these children.

I agree they should have fun, but they have more fun here by getting up at 6 o'clock in the morning and going out and feeding Texas longhorns and shoveling out the horse manure in their stall and being responsible for their own horses than they would going to a camp playing video games and playing ping-pong.

Now, I think these camps, like the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, where they have various -- it's -- it's all devoted to recreational activities and those kinds of things, they're equally valuable. But to think that they don't have fun here or that this doesn't serve a purpose in their interests, you would be wrong.

It may sound brutal, but it's not. They have a great time, and it -- it does wonders for their self-esteem and their sense of self- worth.

And a lot of these kids leave here, and I can't tell you how many children from just the first summer they completely, totally change their lives in terms of their ability to think of themselves as normal kids, even though they site in sickle cell anemia or they might have cancer. So, that's a good question, but believe me this a great program here, and maybe sometime you come out check it out and then see why we do this.

KING: Well asked, well answered. We'll take a final break and come back and bid the tidings of the year, get another call in for the I-Man and young handsome Wyatt, two and half years old. Feel like I'm with Chance.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Tomorrow night, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Montel Williams, who will be with us. Let's get one more call for the I-Man.

Kingstreet, South Carolina. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, how are you doing?

KING: Fine, go ahead.

CALLER: Larry, I want to wish you and Don, first a Happy Hanukkah and a wonderful holiday season.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: But I want to ask Don would he consider doing a nighttime show on prime time similar to yours?

KING: I-Man, would you like to be on at night?

D. IMUS: Oh, no. No, I wouldn't, and I -- in fact, the fact that MSNBC simulcasts us in morning, they really do simulcast a radio program, and I've had offers over the past 30 years -- not big offers, but offers to do these kinds of shows, and I wouldn't be very good at it. One, I wouldn't be very good at it. And two, I wouldn't want to do it and don't intend to. I like what I'm doing.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: You like the mornings. You like mornings, right?

D. IMUS: I love getting up in the morning. I want to get it over by 10:00, and then, you know, rest day I can fool around with him or whatever.

KING: And are you thinking about -- I asked this because I'm in a similar position -- another child? A little playmate for Wyatt?

D. IMUS: No, I'm not Larry. I'm not thinking about adding a little playmate.

KING: Well, why not, Don?

D. IMUS: Well, because he's a -- I don't know. My wife works all of the time, and I work about three quarters of the time and we wouldn't have time anyway. And he's -- I don't think he'd be -- would you want a little brother or sister? You do? So, what do you want? A brother or a sister?

W. IMUS: Sister.

D. IMUS: You want a sister?

KING: Sister, of course.

D. IMUS: How about if we adopt one? Want to adopt one. W. IMUS: Yes.

D. IMUS: Want to adopt one? No. Now, see, he wouldn't be for that. He says he would now, but I mean once.

W. IMUS: I do.

D. IMUS: You do.

W. IMUS: Yes.

D. IMUS: All right.

KING: By the way, is he expecting Santa Claus?

D. IMUS: Well, you know, this is the truth. He's never -- he's never watched any kind of television. The only thing he's ever seen is like if I'm on, he sees sometimes me in morning. He's watching this. He's never -- he has no idea who Barney is. Never -- he has idea about Mickey Mouse, any of that stuff. So, we were driving down the street in Manhattan, and he asked his mother who the big fat red clown was. So -- so -- but he does know. We're trying to get him up to speed on Santa Claus, and as I've explained to him, I still believe. I told his mother I still believe in Santa Claus, why shouldn't he? So, yes, to answer your question, yes he does.

KING: So.

(CROSSTALK)

D. IMUS: Santa Claus.

KING: So, Santa -- Wyatt, Santa's coming to see you, right? Does he expect -- Don, does he expect Santa to come Sunday night?

D. IMUS: Yes, he does. He expects Santa to come right down the fireplace. He's asked me not to have a fire going, and I pointed out that we won't. And, so yes, he does. But he's always...

KING: Keep Fred away because Fred might have a fire going. Don, have a great holiday. It's great having you with us. Continued good health, Don.

D. IMUS: Same to you, Larry.

KING: Best of luck.

D. IMUS: Thanks.

KING: I will. Family to family, there's nothing like it.

Because of the election crisis, by the way, we were unable to devote as much time to entertainment stories as we like to at this time of year. Two films that I think you'll enjoy are opening this week. "All the Pretty Horses," with Matt Damon, directed by Billy Bob Thorton, opens on Christmas. And "The Family Man" with Nick Cage and Tea Leones -- Tea Leone, rather, is in theaters today.

Before I sign off tonight, I want to take a moment to say a few words about a terrific group of people, my staff. I know it's me you see here on the screen night after night, but there are a lot of people behind the scenes that make this show happen. And not only do they make it all happen, they make it a lot of fun.

So tonight I would like to thank the staff: Barbara, and B.J., Bobby and Karrie, Carol and Chip, Chris and Dan and Dean and Aaron and Gail, Greg and Hunter, James and Janon (ph), John and Julie and Kyle and Lisa and Melissa and Mercedes and Michael and Nadine and Shawn and Vicki and Wendy.

Our best wishes go out to all the other folks who you don't see here at CNN who make the show possible. And I include the camera crews, the lighting directors, the makeup artists, the control room staffs in all of our bureaus. Thanks for all you do. You are appreciated. You are the best in the business.

And to our viewers, of course, whatever you do, wherever you go, whatever happens this holiday season, we wish you and your families the very best of the happy holidays. We've got some great shows planned for you. Next week, we're going to replay on Christmas night a wonderful interview with Maureen O'Hara. You'll be seeing Pat Sajak next host a show. You'll also see a show hosted next week by Kathie Lee Gifford, and we're going to repeat some outstanding interviews. And we'll be back live on New Year's night with Anne Margaret.

Have a very Merry Christmas,a very happy New Year and a compilation of interviews with George Bush will air a week from Saturday. See you tomorrow night with Cuba Gooding Jr. Happy Holidays from all of us,to all of you. Good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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