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Don Imus Discusses People and Politics

Aired June 14, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, he needs no introduction. We will give him one anyway: the I-Man, Don Imus for the hour. We'll take your calls. Try to get him to open up, give some opinions. Who knows! Next on LARRY KING LIVE!

It is our semiannual visit, I guess, with one of the great radio stars in American broadcast history, and I kid you not when I say that: Don Imus, of "Imus in the Morning," which is also simulcast on MSNBC each morning. And he is based, of course, the FAN radio in New York, although tonight he joins us from his wonderful ranch in Ribera, New Mexico. Is it Ribera or Reader's Digest?

DON IMUS, HOST, "IMUS IN THE MORNING": Well, actually, we are in a town of Reader's Digest. We are in Black Lamb saloon in Reader's Digest, New Mexico, which is right outside of Ribera, New Mexico.

KING: I see. And it's on the property of the Imus Ranch, which, for the benefit of those people who may not know, houses children every summer who are -- what -- not just cancer, right?

IMUS: Well, it's kids who have had various forms -- the ages of the kids are between 10 and 16. It's an old-time, legitimate working cattle ranch, and it's four kids between 10 and 16, who had various forms of cancer, various forms of blood disorders, sickle cell, anemia, things like that, and for the siblings of kids who have lost brothers and sisters to sudden infant death syndrome.

So, we take a couple sessions of SIDS kids during the year, and the rest are kids who have had cancer and various forms, as I said, of blood disorders.

KING: And how many kids come at one time?

IMUS: About 10 kids at a time, and they all live in the big hacienda that we built, and they stayed two to a bedroom, and they -- I wish we could show you the bedrooms. The bedrooms are about like bedrooms in the El Dorado hotel in Santa Fe, and they become actual employees of the ranch.

There are no televisions here, no radios, no Pac-Man, no Playstation, no computers. They get up at 6:00 in the morning. They spend a half-a-day working on the ranch with the ranch hands. The other half-a-day, we teach them how to ride horses and stuff like that. They get up at 6:00, they go to bed about 9:00, right after LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: And they stay how long?

IMUS: They are here for seven days. Seven full days, they travel one day -- and they travel two days, they come out and then they go back, on the eighth and ninth day.

KING: And you stay there all summer, right?

IMUS: Yeah, I came out -- we were supposed to come out June 1, and I got pneumonia, so we put that off for a week, but we stay from June 1 to September 1.

KING: And your health -- we have come through all the stages of the I-Man injury and the like. Are you now fully recovered?

IMUS: For all intents and purposes, yeah. I mean, I can breath. I actually -- the elevation here where I am sitting is about 6,300 feet. There are places on the ranch where it gets around 7,000 feet, and I live in New York City, as you know. The elevation there is 270 feet. And I actually breathe better here than I do there.

KING: And you ride horses again?

IMUS: Oh, yeah. I rode a horse down here.

KING: There were reports today, I saw on the news, about some major fires in the area you are near. Have you seen any of them, or heard about it?

IMUS: We have any fires here, Randall?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not that I know of.

IMUS: No fires in New Mexico.


IMUS: We haven't had any rain, and so there is restrictions, and they won't issue any fire permits to burn stuff, but other than that, I mean, the potential for fires in New Mexico are great, because it has been -- it has been a really dry season. We had some rain about a week ago, wasn't enough to do much, so.

KING: OK, I-Man, let's get to things in the news, as we all like to do. We will get a lot of phone calls in. It's always great to have him with us. John Travolta, by the way, is the guest tomorrow night.

Let's start right off with the big story that keeps apparently getting bigger. What do you make of this, the missing intern Chandra Levy and the Congressman Gary Condit?

IMUS: Man, that is weird story, isn't it? I mean, where is she? And what is his story? And you know, here is the way these things work. First of all, they don't know anything, and then it turns out she spent the night there. And then she might have spent more than one night there. I mean, I don't know -- but you would think that they could find something, wouldn't you? I mean, it's...

KING: Yeah. Would you also think that he should come forward at least with some explanation for some -- he sent some lawyers out.

IMUS: Well, it doesn't look good. I mean, you know -- we get a lot -- I mean, I don't take many phone calls on that program, but we get a lot of -- we have this America Online instant message deal that we use, and I can't tell you how many people actually write and say: "How come you don't talk about the missing intern, or what's the latest?" So, I mean, it's a compelling story for people and -- I mean, I guess there is not much to tell.

I don't know what his story is. I mean, he is not acting like a guy who is -- you know -- isn't culpable in all this, but who knows.

KING: Now, we turn to a problem that Imus has had in the past, so it might be interesting to get his thoughts as well. There has been a lot of media fuss about the Bush twins, their recent citation for underage drinking. Yesterday, by the way, first lady Laura Bush made her first public comment about the coverage in an interview for CBS's "The Early Show" with Bill Plante. We have an excerpt.


LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it was too much, of course. I'm their mother. I mean, I don't think there should have been any coverage, but they are doing great. They are great girls. They are really terrific girls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any advice for people who have to handle similar kinds of situations with their teenagers?

BUSH: Well, I think every parent of a teenager understands exactly what George and I think right now, and also how our relationship and our -- what we say to our children is totally private. That is just something that is between us and them. And I think people in America understand that.


KING: First, I-Man, is it our business?

IMUS: No. I don't know. That is tough one. Probably not, you know.

But I -- I think -- here is the problem. I think if you are in Austin, Texas, and you go to -- and all the FBI agents in Hawaiian shirts, I mean, it was like -- were they going to a Jimmy Buffet concert? What were they doing? I mean, and then, you got -- I mean, you are in a most popular place in Austin, or one of them, and you're going -- and you are the daughter of the president, and you march up there with a fake ID. I mean, hello!

So, they sort of made a -- I don't know, but I mean I don't know. I feel reluctant to -- we haven't done much on it, and I don't think we would, but I guess it's a worthy news story, though. I mean, it does seem -- I don't know if it is the drinking problem as much as it is a common sense problem, you know.

KING: Is it -- is it very typical do you think, Don, or do you -- you know -- I mean, you are someone who had a drinking problem and you got over it and handled it superbly, but do you think it's something we should give concern about -- about people just faking IDs for that kind of need? Anybody, president's daughters or anybody.

IMUS: This doesn't sound to me like a drinking problem. I mean, drinking problems are people getting a bottle of vodka and sitting home alone and getting drunk, you know. I mean, I do know people go out and drink too much, but it doesn't sound like a drinking problem to me. I'm still a recovering alcoholic, I mean, it never goes away -- but, I mean, I had a fake ID when I was in the Marine Corps, I mean, I don't see a big deal about it, so.


KING: Do you ever want to drink?

IMUS: No, not really, no. I mean, there will be 14 years July 17 so -- I'm sitting on a bar now, but it's a bar that Deirdre designed here at the ranch, so -- and one of the things that's not here is any liquor.

KING: Good thinking.

We will be right back with the I-Man, the host of "Imus in the Morning," from his ranch in New Mexico that helped so many worthy kids and has so many corporate people and individuals involved in helping as well. Back with more, we'll take lots of phone calls too. Don't go away.


KING: We are back with the very unique Don Imus.

Have you read the "Vanity Fair" article about the unraveling of the Clinton-Gore marriage?

IMUS: You know, no -- no, I didn't, but I heard a lot about it. So -- I mean I wasn't surprised, I was happy actually to know that they really hated each other.


And, that that whole thing was jibe, but they had to, I mean, he is pretty -- Al Gore is a straight-laced guy, and of course, we know what Bill Clinton was or is. So -- had to...

KING: Why do you enjoy the proclivities of others?

IMUS: I think everybody does, just nobody says they do. We like it when. You know, I mean I resent it lots of times when a friend of mine gets a big role in a movie, or whatever, you know, I mean, and so when something good happens to somebody, they get a better car than I have, I don't like that.

So, I like it like -- my whole career has been reveling in the agony of other people, including my own hideous life.

KING: People never understand that, critics of yours, never understand what you are there to do is just poke at everyone, including you.

IMUS: Yeah.

KING: Right, that is your role.

IMUS: Yeah, I mean, that is our role.

KING: Don't take it personal.

IMUS: We frankly thought we were going to get -- I mean, I supported Bush, but actually supported McCain but, when he -- clearly wasn't getting it done, even I did -- actually vote for him for president, because when I went to vote in Manhattan, they have people there 100 years old at the polling places, stuff doesn't work, and so they give you a paper ballot because the thing was locked up, so I actually voted for McCain.

However, we saw great potential in a George Bush presidency. But other than driving by King Carlos, which was fairly amusing, like a drive-by...


He hasn't really provided a lot of material, you know -- I mean, we have the kids, but I don't want to pick on the kids.

KING: We'll get to him later. Speaking of someone who has provided a lot of material, what do you make of -- all I have to do is ask you as a question, Rudy Giuliani?

IMUS: Well.

KING: What happened?

IMUS: Who knows. I actually live in Manhattan -- my wife and I and Wyatt -- we live in Manhattan, and we have lived there for years. And he is a great mayor, he runs a great city.

But what I -- you know, when people get divorced, and you know about that, Larry.


KING: Keep it up, I-Man, go ahead, yes?

IMUS: But...

KING: All right.

IMUS: Who knows better?

KING: I know.

IMUS: You know, they can be bitter, but in this particular instance, with kids involved, and you know -- one of them is a teenager, the other one is 10, 11 years old, I guess the girlfriend, she has a daughter, they're fighting. She and her husband are fighting over.

To make it as public display as it has been, and it's hideous by the way -- I mean, a lot of things we didn't need to know and one of them that -- God bless him, because of his prostate cancer, but, more than we need to know, that he is walking around with a limp noodle. I mean, I didn't need to know that.

And they made that an issue. And kids can be pretty mean, meaner than we are. And so our reaction has been in the New York City that how humiliating it has been for the kids involved, and frankly, none of us, I mean, various people on radio in New York City have ever thought it was that amusing, you know? It is really pretty sad.

KING: How did those such a smart guy let this, do you think, get out of hand?

IMUS: Well, I guess the guy just got mad, you know. You know, George Jones and Tammy Wynette had a great country song. It was called "Two-Story House." "We all live in a two-story house." So, she has her story, and he has his, and, so, who knows? You know, but there is obviously some real bitterness there, I mean, when she decided he is running for whatever he was going run for -- I forget now -- and she decides to appear in the "Vagina Monologues", you knew that there was some real hatred going on there. That was crazy.

So, I don't know how he let it get out of control. I think he just got mad.

KING: We're covering items in the news with the I-Man. He always has his own slant.

Yesterday, a judge in Florida denied a student newspaper and an Internet Web site's access to the photos of the autopsy of Dale Earnhardt. This was a conflict over First Amendment. The right to show anything, and the family's privacy. What do you make of that?

IMUS: Well, I thought it was disgraceful. I'm a -- you know, we're big NASCAR fans, of course, and I didn't know Dale Earnhardt very well. I had him on the show a few times, and, wasn't making any difference whether it was Dale Earnhardt or, whomever, but I mean, I just thought the whole thing is disgraceful.

I understand about the legal and constitutional issues involved, I'm not a moron. But, man, I don't know who would want him, and why, and -- I just thought the whole thing was disgusting and disgraceful.

KING: We will be right back -- sorry, go ahead.

IMUS: Why put these families through that? You know, I saw -- watching CNN earlier today, and I saw his wife on -- that is crazy. Just, can't do that.

KING: What's the great public need to see it?

IMUS: There is none. There is no public need to see it.

KING: None, our guest is the I-Man, the host of "Imus In The Morning" on Fan Radio. He's also of course nationally heard, syndicated by Westwood 1 and seen at the same time on MSNBC.

We'll be including your phone calls, discussing other things, with Don Imus. John Travolta tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Our guest, one of the great radio figures, Don Imus. Imus. I'm getting lost.

And he is at that ranch of his in New Mexico, we are going intersperse phone calls as we go along. And we go to Wichita, Kansas, hello.

CALLER: Imus, how you doing? This morning I heard you on the radio complaining that that no one ever asks to meet you. I would like to meet you. But my question is: How do you think Bush's trip in Europe is going?

IMUS: Who do I think what? I didn't hear that.

KING: The Bush trip in Europe, how -- what's your assessment?

IMUS: Well, it provided some good material, I mean mispronouncing the prime minister of Spain -- what was his name, of course we didn't have tape on that, I mean where was CNN now? Your worldwide news network.

We know MSNBC is not going to have it. Then, the drive-by with King Carlos, I think that is hilarious. King Carlos, what's the babe's name, Sylvia or Sonja, they are standing, whatever, standing there waiting, really, like a night drive-by. It is hilarious.

KING: Are you...

IMUS: Here's the thing, I don't -- you know, what I don't understand: why don't we tell these European countries to shove it? What do we care what they think? I mean...

KING: I-Man!

IMUS: What?

KING: You don't care? IMUS: No, I don't. Talking to Tom Friedman from "The New York Times" this morning. He says, well, you know, if we are going to put up this missile shield, we've got to put these relay stations, and all this stuff.

Put the relay stations there. What are they going to do? We'll stop giving them money. I mean, it's ridiculous. And they're always -- every time we get a new president, we got them all over there whining about what they don't like we, and we should tell them to stick it. That is that ridiculous!

I realize he has to go over there, but the guy is over there in countries, he can't spell, he can't pronounce, he doesn't know where he is. It is, craze -- it's ridiculous.

KING: You do think NATO is important, don't you?

IMUS: Well, I guess, yeah.

KING: I guess you don't.

IMUS: Well, I mean, I don't know. What are any of these people going to do? Nothing. They're not going to do anything.

KING: In other words, we are the guy with the big stick and we can bully pulpit this?

IMUS: I mean -- to be serious a little bit, I do understand that you have to -- it's a world -- we live in a big world, and you've got to get along with these people, but I mean, I don't think we've got to go over there and listen to what they don't like about us juicing that creep in -- Tim McVeigh or these other -- I mean, I just don't think we need to hear that.

KING: Concerning, by the way, juicing Tim McVeigh, do you have a position on capital punishment?

IMUS: Well, you know, I guess I'm like a lot of people. I mean, I -- it makes me nervous when the government says starts killing people, but we killed people in other instances. I wasn't for -- I mean, I didn't lose anybody in Oklahoma City other than -- you know, you obviously feel for those people, in particular those children. But I don't know if it gave these people any -- I mean, I don't know how killing him gave any of these people any closure, but I'm not going to be presumptuous enough to try to speak for them.

I would say that I think a better punishment might have been to stick him in a cell with no barbells, and no magazines, and no television, and no bed, and let him sit there for the rest of his life and let him think about it. I don't know.

KING: Greenville, South Carolina, as we go to calls for the I- Man as well. Hello.

CALLER: Do you think McCain is trying to undermine President Bush, or are his motives pure? IMUS: Well, that is a pretty good -- a good question, lady. I don't know. I kind of know McCain -- I mean, I don't hang out with him.

KING: He went to your ranch, didn't he?

IMUS: Well, yeah, but I mean, he talked to mostly -- talked to Deirdre and Fred. He stayed away from me. He did go horseback riding with me, but -- see, I don't think he likes -- I know he doesn't like Bush. I mean, I don't know that -- he didn't say to me "Don, I don't like Bush," but I mean, I just -- he couldn't possibly like him after the things that went on in South Carolina, which were repugnant.

But -- who knows what he has in mind. I think -- I mean, I think he likes to get his name in a newspaper, and I -- but I -- but I -- I wouldn't question his motives. I mean, I think the guy is pretty sincere. He is a moral, ethical guy, I do know that, so.

KING: Do you think Senator Jeffords was also sincere?

IMUS: I don't know. I mean, I don't know. I don't know -- I don't know much about the guy. I mean, he just seemed like a weasel to me, but you know.

KING: Imus forms opinions quickly.

IMUS: No, but he does. I mean, he is a weasel. It's like being in the mafia. If you are in a mafia, you -- I mean, I'm not condoning what the mafia does -- but if you are in the mafia, you are in the mafia. And you don't -- they don't suddenly make a deal with the government, I mean, and rat out your friends. I mean, it's insane. I don't understand that.

Same as if you are in the FBI, I mean, you don't start selling secrets to the Russians. I mean, that's crazy, so. So, there should be some sort of degree of loyalty. And I think -- so I think Senator Jeffords -- I think the same thing about that. I don't think he is -- speaking about pure motives, I don't think his motives were pure at all. He is a weasel.

KING: By the way, you mentioned mafia, are you a "Soprano" fan?

IMUS: Man, I love "The Sopranos." And you know, I'm not a big television viewer of anything other than news programs and the sporting events, but somebody got me -- this is just this past year where I really got into "The Sopranos", and man I'll tell you, that is just -- and then, we had a few of the cast members on, and I saw when you had them all on. That was a great show.

In fact, Ralph Cifaretto -- is that the way you pronounce his name?

KING: Yeah, Cifaretto, yeah.

IMUS: OK. We had him on the day -- or a day or two after you -- or I think the next morning after you, we had him on, and I was talking to him about how disappointed I was to see him on your show with a beret on and a goatee. I mean, I wanted to see these people as they are. Yeah, I mean, you know.

But he was a wonderful -- he was good on your show, he was great on our show. I mean, they are all -- and the guy who plays the big fat guy who takes care of Uncle Junior, what a charming, articulate, gregarious guy! God, he was great! You know, you think -- he plays a dope on the show, but man he was great, and so.

KING: We need a break, and I -- I want you to come back and analyze why that show pleases us so much, despite all the controversy over it. We will be right back with the I-Man, lots more phone calls, he is with us for the full hour. Don't go away.


KING: We are back with the I-Man. What do you make of "The Sopranos"? Why have they become so part of the fabric? And make it hypnotic, that you have to watch them.

IMUS: Well, we were sitting here during the break talking about it, and it isn't -- I was -- you know Bob Wright -- of course you do, the head of NBC. He sent out this memo -- we were making fun of it, the memo, you know, so he calls me to try to explain to me -- God knows -- I mean, the guy has to get a life if he is calling to explain stuff to me -- about why he -- and I -- I said -- I said the attraction is not the sex and not the violence, and not the language, and he laughed, you know, like I was a moron.

And apparently, I read an article in "New York Times," apparently other people had told him the same thing, that the attraction of "The Sopranos" was not the sex, and not the violence, and not the language. And I really don't believe it was.

I think one, it is great acting, they are great actors. And the guy, Ralph Cifaretto, is that his name? What is his name, Larry?

KING: I think it's Ralph Cifaretto.

IMUS: The guy who plays Ralph on the show. You know, he had a good analogy, or a good explanation of why these people are so good. All of these actors, James Gandolfini, Edy Falco, all of these people, for the most, they are all seasoned actors, and they have all been really bit players or supporting players in -- for all of their careers, either on Broadway or in movies.

This is the first -- so they really learned their craft. This is the first opportunity that they have had to be cast in starring roles, and you know, they've got the chops to do the lines -- and speaking of the lines, the lines are brilliant, it is brilliant writing. I mean, there are -- there is hilarious, clever writing, and the actors are just wonderful. I mean...

KING: So they are -- they are real people to you.

IMUS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it is laughable. We sit around the office and talk about Tony -- I mean, my friend Seth, you know, the sports guy tells me -- he is a real "Sopranos" freak, so he would -- he would report each week on my program about "The Sopranos," and we would talk about the motives of Tony, and these other people, as though in fact, you know, they were real people.

Like I asked Mike one time, I said: "Do you think that Tony Soprano would ever hit his wife?" He said: "No, he wouldn't" -- because I -- you know, when he did hit the...

KING: The other girl.

IMUS: Yeah, man, I -- it made me kind of uncomfortable, but -- in fact, it made me very uncomfortable, but -- so we talked about Tony Sopranos, as though in fact, you know, he was just a real guy, and...

KING: Yeah, it's amazing.

IMUS: Yeah.

KING: They pulled it off.

IMUS: It's like people talk about soap -- I can say why people like these soap operas, I mean, I think you can get -- I -- you know, you can get caught up in the lives of these people. No, that is a great show, just a great show.

KING: We will be right back with more of the I-Man. We are halfway through. More phone calls, more things to cover. Don't go away.


KING: He's at his ranch in Reader's Digest, New Mexico, where, with his wife and son and brother, they run the Imus ranch, and help a lot of kids less fortunate than yours.

By the way, People who want to help the Imus ranch, do so how?

IMUS: Well, they can write to us:

Imus Ranch Post Office Box 250 Ribera, New Mexico 87560

KING: You can -- it's hard to think of a more worthy place you could help, directly helping kids. That is:

Imus Ranch Post Office Box 250 Ribera, New Mexico 87560

If you are sending a check, you make it out to the Imus Ranch. You will be helping a lot of people.

IMUS: My -- my wife and my brother and I actually run it, we don't -- that is why we are here all summer, and we don't pay ourselves any salary. We don't charge my plane off to the ranch. We don't buy trucks on ranch money, every penny that is put in -- we raised $25, $30 million. Every penny goes to what it is supposed go for. We have great people working here, and it's a great experience for us, you know, my -- we saved an enormous amount of money.

And my wife, who is -- well, she is an actor and an artist, but she not only designed every building on the ranch, but also decorated it and saved us an enormous amount of money.

And my brother lived out here for two and half years, put together, the rest of the ranch, got all the animals, did all the landscaping, so, they really both -- Deirdre and Fred really made -- I'm not patronizing them at all, they have really made a life altering commitment for these children.

And my wife has just formed a Deirdre Imus Center for Pediatric Oncology, over at Hackensack University Medical Center to try to find a cure and a reason that these children are contracting cancer.

I don't mean to go on about it, but just briefly, this is the only -- I was talking to friend Kinky Friedman today, and he was laughing about it, he's from Texas, you know. This is the only cattle ranch in the galaxy that is totally, completely organic, it is a vegan diet, we don't serve any meat, we don't serve fish, any chicken. All of the cleaning products here are -- at the impetus of Deirdre -- all of the cleaning products are nontoxic cleaning products. All of the -- that we use no pesticides on any of products, on the cattle, on the trees or anything.

So the kids all come out and they eat vegetarian food, you know, people wonder, are these kids going to want hamburgers? They love veggie burgers and we have Rosa, a great chef and a great crew here, so, it's a wonderful experiment and it is working great. So it is a worthy cause to help, and...

KING: Sure is. Box 250, Ribera, New Mexico, thank yourself, the zip code is 87560. Sherman, Texas for the I-Man, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Imus, I love your show, I never miss it.

IMUS: Thank you.

CALLER: I'm a teacher and I stay real concerned about the plight of our children. And I would like for you to tell me what you think we need to do that we are not doing in regards to stopping so much violence among young people today.

IMUS: I think their parents could stop hitting each other, first of all.

KING: A good start.

IMUS: That would be a start. I mean, I have never been one that thought a kid -- I mean again -- I have got to thinking about what -- does violence on television influence the way a person behaves? I thought about in my life, the books I have read that have had a great impact on me and the way I think, and you know, the people who have influenced me and my life, you know Mort Sahl and those kinds of people, Ariel Duran, those kinds of people and then whether there is -- whether you can transfer that television and those kinds of things.

But I really do think it starts in the home. And I think if there were less drinking and less smoking and less violence, and more respect among parents, there would be more so among children. And I think the worst thing you can say to a kid is, you are living in my house, and you are going to abide by my rules, which I think is an insane thing to say to a member of your family.

One of the -- I mean, Wyatt is 3 years old, and he thinks he owns an estate in Westport and a penthouse in Manhattan, but I mean, I think it is the way you have to raise a kid.

KING: Absolutely. Sacramento, California, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Mr. Imus, you poked fun at a lot of people and politicians on your program. Sometimes, with pretty serious notes, sometimes creative humor, but my question is, is there anybody that you just really don't like?

KING: Only an hour show. You! He doesn't like you.

IMUS: Our program is not about who I personally like or dislike, I mean I -- it really is an effort, to have fun and to entertain people and, I mean we have many of the same guests, for example, that Tim Russert has on "Meet The Press," but you know, we don't ask the same kinds of questions, and, Tim doesn't have an agenda -- a serious agenda, nor do we.

I will give you an example. Mary Matalin, who now works at the White House, she is an aide to -- she is counselor to president, aide to Vice President Cheney. And she was on our program and has been for years. And then she was off for a while, because -- till she sort of got acclimated I guess at the White House.

So she comes on the other day, and, you know, we were trying to get her to say something awful, obviously, about the president or the vice president. Has he been eating hamburgers, the vice president? That kind of thing, going down to the butcher, getting a porterhouse steak, that sort of thing.

So, we were talking about her kids and she said that her kids still sleep with her and James, you know. I said, what you would wonder if somebody said that? Wouldn't you wonder how they have -- if they still have sex? You know. Do they wait until the kids go to sleep? Do they have to be quiet and not wake them up? She got all upset about it and offended and said, you know, that that is the reason nobody from the White House will come on, because we ask those kinds of questions, but I mean, obviously...

KING: You're asking what people are thinking.

IMUS: Yeah, absolutely so -- so there isn't -- I mean there a lot of people -- I don't think there is anybody who I absolutely dislike, other than, well, you, for the phone call, but...


KING: You, caller, are about number one on the list now.

We'll be right back with more of the I-Man from his ranch in New Mexico. Don't go away.


KING: Before we take another call, I wanted to ask you about this Sid Rosenberg story. He's the sports caster on your show once a week. Apparently he made some remarks about the tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams for which he was fired. They were all actually considered racist and I understand he goes back on the air, made an apology and you rehired him. Is that pretty much it?

IMUS: Yeah. I fired him. Well, you know I got to thinking about it the remarks he made I thought were -- they weren't funny. And you know that is -- we hire sports guys not to just do sports, we hire them to be funny. But I like the kid. I thought he was, I don't think he's a racist at all. I thought he used hideously poor judgment.

We have two African-Americans who occasionally appear on the show (UNINTELLIGIBLE) so I talked to them about it. They decided to come in, the two black guys. They have dome sports before on the program and they appear occasionally -- funny guys, in real life.

Anyway, I asked them what they thought about it. They sort of agreed with me. They said well, let's see where the guy is coming from. So I offered him the opportunity to come back on the program and to apologize not only to apologize for the remarks that he had made, and to the Williams sisters and the family, but I wanted to get a sense that if he understood the difference between making fun of somebody and making a making a bigoted, racist, unfunny, remark and I was satisfied that he did.

Now, one of the it was either Stefan or Montaria (ph), somebody on the show, said, well, now are you guys satisfied? And they said, well, yeah we are, but, but I think Stefan said that we would be feel better if Sid wrote the Williams sisters, a letter, and sent the letter to them, but also read it on the air. I thought that was a reasonable. I thought that was a reasonable solution.

And I'll tell you why I didn't just blow the guy up: because I think, because there are too many gutless people who fold up every time. I have had guys -- I have had a guy after me for years screaming about me being racist. And I have had other people talking about me being just, you know, disgusting and they can shove it.

They blew up Al Campanis. I mean the guy may or may not -- I don't know, he may be dead now -- maybe he was a racist.

KING: He did die. IMUS: I doubt that he was. Jimmy the Greek, I doubt that the guy was -- the guy was stupid, but I doubt that he was a racist. And there have been other people who these various executives, these networks and stuff throw their hands up, wash their hands of it and blow them up. Well, I decided that as long as I had the influence that I was going to -- if I was satisfied that this kid is sincere, that he is not a racist, that he is not bigoted, that he doesn't really harbor those views, that he thinks if there is some -- that he thinks people of different colors are some -- are different species or some other repugnant awful thing.

I'm just going to give him another chance, and I know there are some people that don't like it and I don't care whether they like it or not. I think the kid deserves a chance.

KING: Spoken in true I-Man fashion. Brattleboro, Vermont, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Don. I just have a -- I'm a great listener of you, but I just want to ask you about his, you know, George Bush's relationship with Jim as a great Republican supporter of George Bush. Here he is snubbing him at teacher of the year. He didn't even invite him to the ceremony. He's threatening all of Jim Jeffords's programs for northeast dairy (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And he supported him for years.

I mean, do you blame a gentleman like Jim Jeffords for getting really upset at the Republican Party for, that matter George W., for you know, not supporting his programs that he...

KING: That's the other side, I-Man. He felt left out.

IMUS: You know, that is a pretty good -- that is a pretty good point, ma'am. I mean, I still think the guy is a weasel, but you have a very good point. I felt the Bush people handled it -- I mean. it was clumsy the way they handled it. I mean. it was petty not to invite him to the teacher of year ceremony. It was idiotic to threaten -- threaten the guy. They play hard ball and we knew they were going to play hardball with the disgraceful things -- speaking of racism -- of the awful things they did to John McCain in South Carolina.

So, no, ma'am, you have a good point.

KING: We'll be right back with more of the I-Man. More phone calls as we ride along here on this Thursday night, Friday morning. Don't go away.


KING: Philadelphia for Don Imus, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry.


CALLER: Don, I wanted to know why you made fun of Dan Rather's haircut which looks great. And would you take off your hat and show us your hair?

KING: Now, that looks funny, I-Man, but again he has had his hat on. Did you make fun of Mr. Rather's crewcut?

IMUS: Yeah, guy looks like a Martian. He looks like he is about ready to be strapped in, and there's something I always wanted to say on this show, Larry. May I?

KING: Yes.

IMUS: Howard Stern. Penis.


KING: By the way, I read somewhere that he remarked that you used to use that terrible word about black people when he worked with you at a same radio station in New York. Was that true?

IMUS: Probably, yeah.

KING: Was that when you were drinking?

IMUS: Oh, sure, I was probably drunk, and absolutely. Sure.

KING: You are amazing, I-Man. You don't counter anything. You fess up. Michigan City, Indiana, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: And hi, Mr. Imus.

IMUS: Hi, how are you?

CALLER: I want to congratulate you on some of the good work you are doing, Mr. Imus. But I was actually going to ask you what you thought about all the bashing you get from Howard Stern.

IMUS: Well, not much. We work for the same company. I mean I think a lot of it is funny. Probably most of it is. I mean one time -- what happened -- oh, my lung collapsed, and he was actually on the air praying that I died. And I thought, I mean I thought that was really -- I thought because it was done in a spirit of good radio, and it was amusing, and it made me laugh. I mean, he may have been serious, but that is irrelevant. I somehow probably doubt he was but that is something that is irrelevant. I mean...

KING: You are able to separate that?

IMUS: Yeah.

KING: You can listen to a man say, I hope he dies, which I think -- that don't sound funny to me, but saying I hope he dies and you are the man he is hoping dies, and you laugh at that. IMUS: It is funny. I mean, who would say that? He would. Who would say "I hope he dies"? We probably would, but I mean particularly when I nearly did die, so I thought it was amusing.

But I'm the last person, believe me, who could ever complain about somebody making fun of me. I mean, that would be just idiotic, so, I mean, it is fine with me.

KING: So, you don't take it personal?


KING: You like his work.

IMUS: Well, I don't know, Larry. I thought maybe you had another tact there. I just didn't hear anything. I don't get a chance to listen...

KING: Well, you like it?

IMUS: I think he is a funny guy, clever, funny, I mean. You know, I mean, I'm not -- you know, the better he does, the better Viacom does, and the better Viacom does, the better we all do.


KING: All comes down to money! We'll be back with our remaining moments with -- well, some day, we are all going to work for him, though I guess radio-wise we work for him too -- that's right, we are simulcast on many radio stations and...

IMUS: Well.

KING: We are all....

IMUS: We are all going to work for Mel.

KING: Mr. Karmizan, we'll be back with our remaining comments with the I-Man. Don't go away.


KING: Cape Girardeau, Missouri, for the I-Man, hello.

CALLER: I-Man, love the show. Just curious, biggest regret and what's next for you?

IMUS: I couldn't understand what he said, Larry.

KING: OK, he wants to know your biggest regret in life. And what do you want to do next?

IMUS: Well, I'm happy doing what I'm doing -- I take it a day at a time. I love being here at the ranch, I mean, kids arrive in about a week. I mean, I love being on a cattle ranch because I grew up on one, and.... KING: Any regrets?

IMUS: I don't know, I don't know. I guess I was going to say all of the years that I did drink. And I did drugs and, you know, I said things to people that I shouldn't have said, you know, part of the A.A. philosophy, is you go back and you try to make amends for all of the people who you have either hurt or -- all of the things you have said that you shouldn't have said, and I said a lot of things to people I shouldn't have said, and...

But, I mean, I can't go through the -- I have been sober for 14 years, I don't say stuff to people like that anymore, I'm not going to beat myself up the rest of my life about it so I don't really have any regrets, I dearly love the woman I married, and, we are thrilled to death with Wyatt, and we feel very thankful. I'm glad I'm still alive, nearly died last year so I don't have any regrets.

KING: Any regrets maybe, about how you handled children earlier?

IMUS: No. Not really you know, I wasn't a horrible father. You know. So -- no. I don't, I don't really have any horrible regrets, no.

KING: No anger of, I could have had all of this sooner if not for the bottle? I could have been a national personality 20 years ago?

IMUS: There was a night with Kinky Friedman in a hotel in Chelsea, but why go there?

KING: One little error. So you are going to be at ranch all summer, kids start coming next week.

IMUS: Yep. We are all excited.

KING: Are you there to great them, like the plane! The plane!

IMUS: Absolutely, and Deirdre, she takes them down to the general store and they all get Wrangler jeans and cowboy hats and Justin cowboy boots and she takes them up, you know, she did -- she did all of the kids bedrooms. She designed them, each one individual.

Somebody was visiting the ranch yesterday and said, God, this hacienda is beautiful. Where do the kids stay? Do you have like cabins or tents? Deirdre said, no, not quite. She took him back and showed him the bedrooms and they are marvelous places for -- wonderful places for these kids to stay, and she did a brilliant job, and they are all different colors, and all adobe, it is a straw-built constructed adobe hacienda, about 14,000 square feet, magnificent facility.

So she takes them back, gets them in the room, here comes Fred, and Donny comes and we get them to bed, and get them up next morning at 6:00, off and running.

KING: We only have a minute left. How does Wyatt, 3-year-old Wyatt, deal with them?

IMUS: Well, you know, he gets very attracted to the girls. You know. And he is a pretty bright kid, so he hangs out with them, and he's starting to have an understanding now about what the ranch is all about. You know, he's already learning to ride and he wants to help out and he is going to -- to work just like all the ranch hands, as soon as he is old enough, so it is a great place, great experience for him.

He already, even at 3, has a great empathy and compassion for people, so it is great. He handles it well.

KING: Always good being with you. Have a great summer, I-Man.

IMUS: Thanks, Larry.

KING: He is one of the best, good guy.

Don Imus, host of "Imus in the Morning," nationally syndicated by Westwood 1, and seen as well on MSNBC.

For more information on tonight's show, you can log on to our Web site:

A reminder that John Travolta will be with us tomorrow night, and over the weekend, we will replay highlight interviews with Margaret Thatcher. I think you will find that very interesting. And Linda Tripp as well. When we are back Monday night with the regular LARRY KING LIVE, Michael Flatly will be the guest, of "Lord Of The Dance", thanks for joining us.

For the I-Man, I'm Larry King, good night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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