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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview with Don Imus

Aired February 11, 2002 - 21:00   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight -- he's back. The "I" man mouths off. Don Imus, opinionated, outspoken, taking your calls.

But first, where is Danielle Van Dam. It's been 10 days since she vanished from her San Diego home. Her parents discuss the desperate search for their seven-year-old daughter, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin tonight's show with a visit with Damon and Brenda Van Dam. They join us from right outside San Diego where they live. Their seven-year-old daughter, Danielle, as you well know by now disappeared from the family home in Savor Springs, California on February 2nd. She has been missing more than a week. Have you received anything, anything encouraging, any note, any sign at all, Damon?

DAMON VAN DAM, FATHER OF MISSING GIRL: Nothing. We have no word. The police tell us they're getting new leads from this though.

KING: They do tell you that? Are the police encouraged Brenda.

D. VAN DAM: Yes.

BRENDA VAN DAM, MOTHER OF MISSING GIRL: They seem to be.

KING: Is this the kind of thing where as time goes by, you get less hopeful, more hopeful or what? Damon, how would you respond?

D. VAN DAM: It's harder and harder to hold out hope, but we're still hanging in there.

KING: And we asked the last time, Brenda, how are the two boys, the brothers holding up?

B. VAN DAM: They're doing very well. We do a prayer each day and they each get to say something to Danielle, and hope that she comes home soon. And we talk to them daily just about how they feel, and I think they're both holding in there.

KING: Now, let's get to some questions. We understand there is a reward of $25,000 for information leading to the return, is that correct, Damon, and what do people do -

B. VAN DAM: Yes. KING: -- to check in on that? Either one can answer.

B. VAN DAM: There is a $25,000 reward for legitimate information leading to the return of Danielle, and they can phone in to the police department with any information that they have.

KING: And that number is 619-531-2000, 619-531-2000. If you want to give information anonymously, remember of course if you do that with a reward you're not going to collect the money, but if you're apprehensive and want to give information anonymously, you can dial 1-800-THE-LOST, T-H-E L-O-S-T, or 1-800-CRIME-TV. For prerecorded information on the case, and this changes daily, call 1- 800-251-9927.

All right, we have to deal with this. In an article in NEWSWEEK Magazine, there is word that Brenda - this is what it says that Brenda and Damon Van Dam may have been swingers fond of spouse swapping. That had been percolating around Internet chat rooms and spilling into local press throughout the week. By Friday, public discussions of the rumor started drowning out the parents' pleas for help. Do you want to comment on that, Damon?

D. VAN DAM: We want to keep the focus on Danielle. We don't want to comment on that. We just want people to keep looking for Danielle.

KING: But do you realize...

D. VAN DAM: She's the victim here and we're the victim here.

KING: Of course, but you realize Brenda, when people hear stuff like that, that opinion can waver, and when you don't deny it, it makes people think like well, if you're swinging and there's no law against swinging, are you less interested in your child?

B. VAN DAM: Absolutely not. This has nothing to do with the investigation, and I would certainly like to clear it all up. But it saddens me that anyone would want to focus on anything other than Danielle. She's the victim here, and I just don't have the time to deal with those issues right now. My focus is on finding my daughter, and it saddens me that all of these things have come out.

KING: Of course it's saddening.

B. VAN DAM: I am not listening to the...

KING: Personal life is nobody's business. But when people come in the spotlight as you two have, you know how reporters are. They will dig. We sympathize. Nothing could please us more than to have Danielle come back, but it's fair to ask, do people -- if you're not denying the story, do people who live this lifestyle, does that mean you might be less attentive to children, since most people don't have that lifestyle?

D. VAN DAM: I hope the reporters will take as long to dig into especially Brenda's commitment to the children and her commitment to motherhood. Anyone who knows her is 100 percent behind us on this. She is active in Brownie's, is active with the school almost every day. Most of the people we know call her one of the best mothers, if not the best mother they've ever met.

KING: So Brenda, in other words...

B. VAN DAM: I would not do...

KING: I'm sorry, go ahead.

B. VAN DAM: Damon nor I would do anything to endanger the lives of our children. They are our lives, and they are very special to us, and I don't think any parent would do anything to endanger the lives of their children. I just -- I don't want to focus on that aspect of it. I want to focus on finding my daughter, and frankly, I don't care what's being said. I'm not listening to any of it.

KING: But it's a good lesson for us all that people can have a lifestyle and be wonderful attentive parents at the same time. This is done so that people don't prejudge you in a way you would not want to be judged, right? Is that a true statement? People can have lifestyles and be great parents.

D. VAN DAM: We don't want to discuss that. We want to talk about Danielle.

B. VAN DAM: Yes, we don't want to discuss that.

D. VAN DAM: We want people to look for Danielle and to continue to put the posters out and to get the word out. Danielle is missing and we want our daughter back.

B. VAN DAM: She's our main objective.

D. VAN DAM: That's what we want to focus on. That's why we're here.

KING: All right, now another part of the story and this certainly relates, is authorities have impounded vehicles and other items belonging to a neighbor, David Westerfield. He reportedly has hired a lawyer. He hasn't been arrested or charge with anything. We want to make that clear.

You said you hardly know him. He says that he ran into you, Brenda, the night that your daughter went missing, and that you danced with him. Who's right here?

B. VAN DAM: Let me tell you.

D. VAN DAM: No comment.

B. VAN DAM: I really can't comment on that because it is part of a police investigation.

D. VAN DAM: And they've asked us not to comment in any way on any of this. B. VAN DAM: But I can tell you that I...

D. VAN DAM: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

B. VAN DAM: ... do not know this person. He was a neighbor.

KING: OK, no because the last time you were on, we asked about him and you both said you hardly knew him, when he said or told someone and it was quoted that he danced with you. That would mean you somehow knew him a little. So, I just wanted to clear that up. You don't know him?

B. VAN DAM: He's a neighbor. We may have spoken to him once or twice, but that's it.

KING: OK, people now interested in this, interested in helping you, they can call the San Diego Police, 619-531-2000, for prerecorded information, 1-800-251-9927, for information anonymously 1-800-THE- LOST or 1-800-CRIME-TV. Have you gotten any crank calls?

D. VAN DAM: We've gotten sympathetic calls and e-mails...

B. VAN DAM: Lots of them.

D. VAN DAM: ... from all over, and it's great to see how much support there is out there.

B. VAN DAM: We receive cards in the mail. We have lots of e- mails with people just, they are saying we are in their prayers and they're praying for Danielle, and that's what we want. We want the focus to be on Danielle, and finding out daughter.

KING: Well, you are in our prayers.

B. VAN DAM: And we just want her back.

KING: Thank you very much. Let us all pray and hope.

D. VAN DAM: Thank you.

B. VAN DAM: Thank you, Larry.

KING: As we said, let's hope we're here tomorrow with here. Damon and Brenda Van Dam, their seven-year-old daughter Danielle remains missing. The San Diego Police 619-531-2000. And remember that reward of $25,000 is for information leading to the return of Danielle. There doesn't have to be any trial or conviction of anything, $25,000 for leading information for the return of their daughter.

Before we meet Don Imus and go to break, this just in. The FBI has issued an extraordinary terrorist alert tonight, asking law enforcement and the American public to be on the lookout for a Yemeni man and several associates who might be plotting a terrorist attack as early as tomorrow morning. The FBI scrambled to put the warning out after information emerged that one or more people were involved. Officials, the intelligence tell us -- the intelligence while deemed credible was not specific about the possible target. The alert identified one possible attacker as Fuaz Waya al-Rabi (ph), a Yemeni national born in Saudi Arabia in 1979.

It listed about a dozen associates of al-Rabi. We'll ask I-man about this and what he can do about it and other things after this. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: It's always a great pleasure to welcome him to LARRY KING LIVE. He's one of my favorite people, the outstanding morning host of the top-rated "Imus in the Morning" show on WFAN in New York, and of course syndicated across the country, also seen on MSNBC simultaneously.

What do you make of this extraordinary alert here for a terrorist attack tomorrow morning?

DON IMUS, "IMUS IN THE MORNING": I don't know.

KING: What do you do with something like that? When you hear it, how do you react?

IMUS: Well, I pay a lot closer attention now every time I walk out of the door, so. But I mean I don't know -- I didn't know we were ever off the other alert.

KING: We're always on some kind of alert.

IMUS: Yes, I mean.

KING: What do you do with that alert? Like you walk out of the door, you look both ways?

IMUS: Well, I mean I don't know what to do.

KING: Are you suspicious of everyone?

IMUS: Oh, absolutely, you know, and I mean particularly if you live in Manhanttan, because every time I look at the George Washington Bridge -- in fact, we were coming in from Connecticut last night and I was looking at the bridge and I was thinking, you know, I mean it's -- I won't go through any of these tunnels anymore, Lincoln Tunnel or Holland Tunnel or Midtown Tunnel. I don't want to be in there, so. I don't want to be on a bridge either, but I mean.

KING: You have to.

IMUS: Well if you want to get in and out of town, yes.

KING: Do you find yourself profiling? IMUS: Well, of course, Larry. By the way, can we set a monitor up here so I can watch the Olympics. You realize they're on? We got all these monitors. Why can't we watch the Olympics on one of them?

KING: What are you interested in most in the Olympics? Give me an example, big I-man. What event?

IMUS: Oh, I'm nothing really.

KING: Come on. What event in the Winter Olympics attracts you?

IMUS: I couldn't -- I was watching the -- I don't know. I'm not into it. I mean I just have it on. It's like --

KING: Hockey I love.

IMUS: You do?

KING: You don't like hockey?

IMUS: No. No.

KING: You don't hockey, guys skating up, beating each other. It's a legal mayhem.

IMUS: No.

KING: No?

IMUS: No.

KING: OK.

IMUS: You know, because this show is seen all over the world, I've a guy who works sports for me, Sid Rosenberg (ph).

(CROSSTALK)

IMUS: Yes, and we have talked it about it on our program and to no avail, but he lives here in Manhattan, down in the Chelsea area. And he went to the -- and the laundry delivered his laundry plus six extra shirts. Now they were nice shirts. They're not like Bob Davis shirts, but I mean they're like Ralph Lauren shirts. They're polo shirts, do you know what I mean?

KING: Yes.

IMUS: And he kept them and wore them.

KING: And why are you revealing this tonight?

IMUS: Because when he told me this, we made him take them back.

KING: To the laundry?

IMUS: Yes, they're not his shirts. KING: What does this have to do with being seen all around the world?

IMUS: Nobody has claimed the shirts, you know, so somebody, I mean...

KING: So these six Ralph Lauren polo...

IMUS: They're nice shirts.

KING: ... are at the laundry.

IMUS: If you take six shirts to the laundry and you didn't them back...

KING: I would go down and say, what happened to my shirts?

IMUS: This has been a couple months. Nobody has shown up for the shirts.

KING: So maybe it's a guy or a girl overseas, is that what you're saying?

IMUS: I don't know, or somebody who travels, or I don't know. Then on top of that, so we thought that was bad enough, and he thought it was fine by the way.

KING: To keep them?

IMUS: Yes. I called his parents, what kind of a guy, you know, how was he raised? So I talked to his parents. His parents thought it was fine. It's their kid, you know.

KING: This will good for the ethics question in the New York Times.

IMUS: So then he goes to the movies the other day, he and his wife. His wife's a lawyer by the way. He goes to the movies and he sees a movie and it's one of those Cineplex, whatever they are. And, so she has to go home and walk the dog. He decides to stay for another movie.

KING: A different movie?

IMUS: Yes.

KING: Without paying?

IMUS: Oh, of course not. He goes and this is a guy that's 35 years old. He goes and he hides in the restroom and he waits. I mean it's -- and then, but he thinks it's fine. He thinks everybody does it. Have you ever done it?

KING: No.

IMUS: You've never done that? You've never snuck in a movie? KING: Oh, when I was a kid.

IMUS: Oh no, I mean lately.

KING: Snuck in through the side door, you know, there were no (CROSSTALK).

IMUS: But I mean in the last 20 years?

KING: I can't remember ever doing that. If I did, it would have been by -- my conscience would have bothered me, I think, and I would have paid. So I would say no. Have you done it?

IMUS: No.

KING: No. It's not -- you're cheating.

IMUS: Have you ever received laundry that was not yours and kept it?

KING: In a hotel, and I've always returned it.

IMUS: You didn't wear the shirt I mean?

KING: No. How could you -- first of all, I don't think it's very cleanly. Cleanly, is that a word?

IMUS: Well, whatever but I mean, plus his shirts were -- I noticed. You don't put two and two together. You figure the guy -- but I noticed suddenly he started showing up for work. He's got these big blousy shirts on.

KING: I think it's disgraceful, and I hope that someone comes. Maybe they're afraid to come and get it because they know it's been worn, who knows.

IMUS: I don't know.

KING: All right. Let's get into other things. The assessing of George W. Bush, has he changed your mind at all about him since September 11th, that you made have had before September 11th?

IMUS: Well we, I mean I thought there was great potential, even though I voted for McCain. I thought there was great potential in him being goofy, you know, and saying goofy things.

KING: Good for your program for four years?

IMUS: Yes. Yes. But friends of mine who live in Texas and who, you know, people like Kicky Friedman (ph) and people like that and my brother lived in Texas for a while and who were there when he was Governor said the guy's not a moron. They said you're really making a mistake. You know, he's just nervous. He's out campaigning. You know how that goes.

So you're not going to get as much out of it as you think you're going to get, you know.

KING: They were right?

IMUS: They were right, weren't they? But the guy -- my brother said something that was really interesting. He said, you know, we can remember back to Eisenhower. He said he's the only guy, the only President who I've ever believed what he was saying.

KING: The only one.

IMUS: Yes, maybe Reagan a little bit, but Reagan was -- but he said when George Bush, when he's on television talking about something, he says, my brother says I believe that he believes what he's saying. You know, he's not taking a poll like that other clown or, you know. He actually believes what he says.

KING: But you voted for McCain in the Republican primary?

IMUS: I voted for him in the election, wrote his name in, yes.

KING: You wrote it in?

IMUS: Yes.

KING: Had you ever done that before, write in a candidate?

IMUS: I probably wouldn't have done it, but when I vote in Manhattan and the people who man the voting booths are like 85 years old, and they don't know, they have no clue, and it's always the same ones, you know. And so, the thing was broken, so I had to have a paper ballot, so had I not been -- had I not had to vote with a paper ballot, I...

KING: Would have voted for Bush?

IMUS: I would have probably voted for Bush, yes.

KING: By the way, John McCain will be on the show tomorrow night with Walter Cronkite.

IMUS: Wonder how he's doing?

KING: Another thing with the son. He's a good guy. He visited your ranch.

IMUS: Yes, good guy. He's a real deal too. He's a little nuts, but.

KING: What do you mean a little nuts?

IMUS: I think he's a little nuts.

KING: How so? You mean being a prisoner all those years kind of?

IMUS: No, I mean I don't think it's bad nuts, but I mean I just think he's a little, don't you?

KING: A little off center?

IMUS: Yes.

KING: In a good way though?

IMUS: Yes.

KING: What do you mean?

IMUS: Tell me if you think this is funny. A disc jockey in Boston, when George Harrison died, I thought this was a scream. He said, the shame was that you and I outlived George Harrison. Do you think that's funny?

KING: That's funny.

IMUS: That is funny.

KING: I don't know what it has to do with John McCain.

IMUS: No, I mean, I just...

KING: It just struck you.

IMUS: No, I just wondered whether you thought that was funny or not.

KING: I think it's funny.

IMUS: Because you never used to think it was funny when people would call, Howard Stern called. You never thought they were. I always thought they were a scream.

KING: Why was that funny if a person...

IMUS: I don't know.

KING: ...called in and said they were Howard Stern since there was nothing funny in it. What is funny in it? That was a funny line.

IMUS: The fact is...

KING: If somebody called in with a funny line about Howard Stern, I'm funny. I like funny things. I laugh.

IMUS: No but the fact that they got through, that was always, I just thought that was so great. They don't do it anymore. How come they don't do it anymore?

KING: I don't know, maybe Howard's suing?

IMUS: Now you guys are so sophisticated, you can't get through.

KING: We'll be back with more of the I-man. IMUS: You used to get mad about it.

KING: Well.

IMUS: Didn't you?

KING: It's annoying because...

IMUS: You got to lighten up, Larry.

KING: There was no brain attended to it.

IMUS: Yes, it was. Some of these people are very clever to get through.

KING: Just to get through.

IMUS: I think so.

KING: Saying nothing of the name.

IMUS: Oh, absolutely.

KING: So you would like that if someone got through to the I-man and just...

IMUS: I think it's a scream.

KING: We'll be back with more of the I-man. We'll be taking your calls tonight, and we'll deal with his interpreter to handle him when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with the I-man, Don Imus. We're going to talk a little later about his ranch. It opens this year in April, the kind of work he does, the people he's helped, including one story he was just telling me about. We'll get to it later about a kid he's just helped.

IMUS: Was Heidi Fleiss, was she on? Was she like sitting where I'm sitting?

KING: Yes, in Los Angeles. Yes, but sitting right, yes, why?

IMUS: That was a rough night for her man, don't you think? She's probably a nice lady, but I don't know her obviously, but.

KING: I guess.

IMUS: I don't think I know her. Maybe I know her. Maybe I called her.

KING: Maybe you know her and don't remember and that is possible. Enron, I heard you say the other day you're getting tired of it. It seems to the casual observer it gets more interesting every day.

IMUS: These people, they should take them down to Guantanmo Bay. Really they should.

KING: Enron?

IMUS: Absolutely. They should freeze all their assets. I mean, it's so outrageous that these clowns are taking the Fifth Amendment and this other weasel tomorrow, this Ken Lay. I mean they should take them down there and beat them.

KING: And hit them?

IMUS: Freeze their assets and then give the money to these people. I mean, it's crazy.

KING: Do you fear it getting to the administration at all, or do you think this is just a horrible, terrible business scandal?

IMUS: Well, the other day, I mean I was talking, I had oh some senator, Chris Dodd on, and I said "did you ever get any money from Enron?" He said "yes, I got $2,500. It's in the bank. No, I got $2,000, not I got $2,500."

So then I had Congressman, the fat guy from Arizona on, J. D. Hayworth, had him on. I said "did you ever get any money from Enron?" He said "yes, I got $2,000."

So they give more money to Chris Dodd but Chris had sent him money back. They have evidently some fund, you know. So they were giving money to everybody. Now did they give more money to the Bushs? Who knows? But one thing the Vice President ought to do is get off that ridiculous business about not revealing what went on in his meetings. I mean I just hate the principle.

John Dean had an op ed piece.

KING: Yes, today.

IMUS: In the Times today. Somebody had a good point. I forget who I was talking to this morning, but they go dig up these people like John Dean. I mean, they can't find anybody more contemporary to talk about the General Accounting Office suing the administration over the information. But they really ought to -- I mean this is a particular case where so many individual people have been, their lives have been ruined.

KING: Right. Didn't you think that 401 (k) and pensions were protected? Weren't you under the assumption that a 401, it sounds governmental -- if you have a 401 (k) your money's good.

IMUS: I don't know anything about them.

KING: I don't know anything either. I don't even know if I have one. Do you have one?

IMUS: No.

KING: I don't know either. Maybe we have one.

IMUS: I don't have one. I know I don't.

KING: You know you don't have one.

IMUS: No.

KING: But I mean, didn't you think the word pension, doesn't pension sound permanent?

IMUS: Well, I never thought that much about it.

KING: Do you think the government should protect them?

IMUS: Well I mean I don't know how -- I don't know. I don't know how to do that, I mean.

KING: A person's savings wiped out and someone sitting with a billion dollars somewhere don't seem fair.

IMUS: Well, I think at this point, the government should freeze all the assets to these people, Lay and the rest of these clowns.

KING: As they do with convicted mob figures?

IMUS: Absolutely. Yes, like they did with Osama bin Laden and all those -- like the whole al Qaeda network. Yes, and they should divvy up the money and give it to these people who -- you know, I saw something on the news the other night about this investment club, a bunch of old women out in Ohio. You know, and they drop $10,000, so I mean that's a lot of money. So I mean they should give these people their money back.

KING: What do you make about the Arthur Andersen accounting deal? Did you ever question accountants in your long storied business career?

IMUS: Well, there's always these stories about particularly show biz people who don't pay any attention to what the hell's going on, and athletes. They get ripped of by some accountant someplace.

KING: Did it surprise you when you read that Arthur Andersen shredded paper?

IMUS: No. Were you surprised? No.

KING: Yes.

IMUS: You were?

KING: That's a major name in the world. You don't buy these major names?

IMUS: No, I wasn't surprised at all. I mean, of course not. KING: We're going to take calls for the I-man.

IMUS: They should send them to Guantanamo Bay as well. They really should.

KING: Arthur Andersen also down there?

IMUS: Yes. Don't you -- I mean -

KING: Put them all together with the al Qaeda.

IMUS: I'm not against beating people at all. I mean, particularly people like this.

KING: You are in favor of -

IMUS: Oh, absolutely. I mean I'm serious about it. I mean I think they got enough of this. I mean you know, they just destroyed people's lives. I mean...

KING: We're a sophisticated society. You can't do lashes, ten lashes and get out the guillotine maybe?

IMUS: Oh, OK. That's why I laugh about it. They worry about like I'm more of a Dennis Miller fan than it's probably healthy to be. You know, I'm lucky as Rupert Pupkin (ph) you know. But anyway, I don't bother him but I do like him.

KING: He's funny.

IMUS: But he said, "I'm sick of hearing about how they're treating these prisoners down there. Who cares?" You know, they ought to be dead. They should be dead.

KING: Do you think we have to catch Osama bin Laden?

IMUS: No.

KING: That's a necessity to put this to rest?

IMUS: No. I mean to win the War on Terrorism for whatever that means, I don't think it's necessary. But I think psychologically for a lot of people, including me, some determination has to be made of where he is.

KING: You were on with us shortly after September 11th and we discussed its effect on you. Does that linger, or do you get back into the norms of life? I mean you told us earlier how you're suspicious of things and you watch yourself over bridges and tunnels.

IMUS: Well it didn't have any -- I mean, I keep thinking of the effect it had on the people who died there and those families and those -- and I just got a patch the other day from these three firemen I had on the program the other day. They had this particular patch made to remember their brothers, and they just found five Port Authority firemen there who were trying to rescue in the towers just over the weekend, I believe, and so. I mean those are the people whose lives were changed. I don't -- I never thought about how it affected me personally.

KING: How about as a New Yorker?

IMUS: Well, I talked about that before. I mean, my wife and I we live in Manhattan and we went to Connecticut for three or four days and then we said, you know, we live in New York. We live in New York. (Inaudible) that's who we are so.

KING: You often talked on your program on how you carry a gun. Is this -- do you feel that you are threatened, that your life would be in danger? I mean, why do you have to carry a gun? What are you staring at?

IMUS: I don't carry a gun. I mean.

KING: But you have the license to carry a gun?

IMUS: Yes. Well I mean, you know.

KING: This is...

IMUS: See I'm not like, I'm not like David Letterman. He's a very nice guy I'm sure. But remember that woman who used to break in his house all the time.

KING: Yes.

IMUS: She'd break in my house once.

KING: You'd shoot her?

IMUS: Well no, I didn't say that. I just said she'd break in my house once and wouldn't break in it again.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

(CROSSTALK)

IMUS: I don't put up with anything from people. I mean I don't think people should. I don't think athletes and I don't think show business people should put up with stuff from people and I don't, so.

KING: Hard to draw him out, isn't it folks? The I-man is our guest. We'll come back. We'll include your phone calls as well. Tomorrow night, Senator John McCain and Walter Cronkite. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with the I-man. We will include your phone calls. A follow-up to the earlier story: The FBI has issued a terrorist alert for authorities to be on the lookout for two men from either Yemen or Saudi Arabia, and about dozen associates who may be planning an attack on U.S. interests in the United States or Yemen, as early as Tuesday.

A senior U.S. law enforcement official has told CNN the information was viewed as credible because of the specificity of those allegedly involved in the plot. The FBI said it would shortly disclose the names of the two principles and their purported associates.

We stay on top of that, we grab a call for the I-man: Waftenburg, Colorado. Hello. Hello? The call is not coming down. I am bringing it down, but it's not coming down. OK. Obviously -- did you have a mishap on your show where the call doesn't come through.

IMUS: You don't want to talk to the people anyway, do you?

KING: You don't mind talking to people?

IMUS: Oh, I don't mind, but, I mean...

KING: You take calls on your show, it's just not coming down. Maybe they failed to check the phone system before they came on.

IMUS: That's fine.

KING: You don't care, do you?

IMUS: No.

KING: No. OK, The American Taliban, as he's called, John Walker Lindh, do you feel any sympathy?

IMUS: No.

KING: For his parents?

IMUS: Oh, well, I mean -- it's not their fault, you know. Kind of a weird situation with these parents, isn't it? I mean...

KING: Letting him go to Yemen?

IMUS: No. That's an unstable situation he had, isn't it? Didn't his dad leave his dad for some other guy or something?

KING: I don't think I ever heard that. Maybe you heard it, but I know they did lead a lifestyle, a very liberal lifestyle.

IMUS: You're on CNN, don't you watch the news?

KING: The dad left the mom for another guy?

IMUS: That's what I heard, yes.

KING: You heard that on CNN? I missed it.

IMUS: Maybe I'm wrong with that. I think that's the case.

KING: Either way... IMUS: Which is fine, by the way.

KING: Hey.

IMUS: But I mean, it's got to probably be unsettling for the kid, wouldn't you think?

KING: But still, you feel no sympathy for him.

IMUS: Well, no. Why?

KING: No, but, you know...

IMUS: No. I don't know. No, I don't -- absolutely not.

KING: Campaign finance reform. The House is going to deal with it this week. Going to pass?

IMUS: Probably.

KING: Do you favor it?

IMUS: I mean, I don't know what it means. I mean, they'll just figure something else out. There's some article in the "Times" today about how they have all been feverishly raising money as the prelude to all of this, suspecting it's going to pass, but I don't know, I mean -- you said you are going to have McCain on tomorrow night or whenever.

KING: Tomorrow.

IMUS: I don't know what it means. It's --

KING: They're trying to put a stop to --

IMUS: I know what they're saying, but they'll figure something else out.

KING: Because they have to get --

IMUS: They have got to have the money. I mean, it's just --

KING: Do you have a general disdain for most politics, then? Because you deal with a lot of politics, a lot of politicians are regulars on your show. I saw a regular of yours this morning, Senator Joe Lieberman.

IMUS: He's going to be on tomorrow.

KING: He sent his best. He was in New York today with Hillary. He did an environ...

IMUS: God.

KING: You don't like Hillary.

IMUS: Please. She's fine.

KING: Has she ever been on your show?

IMUS: No. We invited her, though. There is a number of questions that we'd like to ask her, that Howard and I would like to ask her, and Charles that she doesn't get asked when she goes on with Greenfield or Tim Russert. For some reason they don't ask her the questions.

KING: What's the question?

IMUS: Well, we won't ask them now, we will ask when she comes on.

KING: Is there one that pops to mind that you feel she has not...

IMUS: I'm not going to reveal the questions now, stop badgering me. You are turning into Mike Wallace here.

KING: I'm not badgering...

IMUS: I'm not going to tell you.

KING: So, you're resisting the question.

IMUS: No, I'm just saying that when she agrees to come on, we'll ask her the questions. You know.

KING: OK.

IMUS: Lieberman is going to be on tomorrow, but he's -- I like Lieberman, but...

KING: You got mad at him because he appeared on this show when he was nominated. I remember this.

IMUS: He...

KING: He appeared on this show and you got mad because he didn't appear on yours.

IMUS: He knows that he's a weasel.

KING: He's a weasel.

IMUS: He has great weasel potential. Absolutely does. But he's a good man.

KING: He's a good guy. But he had to appear on your show before he appeared on this one.

IMUS: No, he jerked our chain. He did something -- no, can he do whatever he wants, but I mean -- we just want people to tell us what the deal is. If you don't want to be on, just say you don't want to be on, don't give us some... KING: Baloney.

IMUS: Yeah.

KING: Al Gore is coming back. What do you think?

IMUS: I think Maureen Dowd, she wrote a column about that the other day. I think he should run and get it over with, and get soundly defeated this time, and as opposed to winning.

KING: He got more votes than any guy in history.

IMUS: Yes, this time. And then go do something else. It's just...

KING: Do you like the beard?

IMUS: I just thought it didn't look good on him. It was goofy. Don't you think?

KING: It's hard getting used to it when you have never seen him wear it before.

IMUS: What was the point, though? It was goofy.

KING: You told me once you once weighed over 200 pounds. That sounds weird to me. I can't picture you.

IMUS: I was drunk doing cocaine. Of course. I assume he wasn't.

KING: I thought alcoholics and people who take drugs a lot tend to lose weight. They don't have an appetite.

IMUS: Well, I can't explain it. I don't know what happened. I did a lot of drugs and drank vodka and got fat. Maybe I didn't weigh that much.

KING: Do you ever have -- I know the alcoholics says, that he's always an alcoholic.

IMUS: Yes.

KING: Day to day. Do you ever have a desire?

IMUS: Only at moments like this.

KING: When you are being badgered.

IMUS: Yes. When -- no. I mean -- but it's...

KING: Tell me what happens when you have the urge? What happens since we assume the urge occurs.

IMUS: Well, I don't have an urge to drink because I remember how absolutely awful that was. But when I first stopped doing cocaine, I did have an urge for a few years. Every once in a while I would get to thinking about, because, you know, when -- if you have ever done any cocaine, of course, which I know you have...

KING: I have never gone near -- I'm a Jewish guy. We're afraid. I take no other reason. We're afraid.

IMUS: Anybody who has ever done cocaine, the first two lines are great, you know, and after that it's a nightmare and it can be a nightmare for the rest of your life, if you...

KING: But you keep thinking about...

IMUS: You keep thinking it's great, you keep thinking it's going to be -- but it's not. It's awful. But it's insidious, you know. You forget how awful you felt, and I stopped doing cocaine because the payback got to be too much, not for any other reason, and then I drank for a few more years before I actually stopped doing that.

KING: You did both at the same time sometimes?

IMUS: Umm-Hmm.

KING: Are they compatible?

IMUS: Well, you would do cocaine and then you would drink to take the edge off, and then you could do more -- I mean it's crazy. I'm sitting here sound like a fool.

KING: I'm laughing, but it must have been a great first time.

IMUS: It's not good.

KING: We'll be back with more of the I-man. We will try to clear up our phone situation. We know thousands wish to speak with him. Don't go away.

KING: The I-man has a wonderful charity he's involved with. He founded it. It's his ranch for -- the full title is what, the ranch for sick children? IMUS: It's the Imus -- it's called the Imus Ranch. It was actually founded by my wife, Dierdre Imus, and my brother, Fred Imus, and me. And it's a working cattle ranch for kids with cancer. And it's in New Mexico. And we take kids out and they -- there's no televisions, no radio, no telephones, no video games, none of that stuff.

And they stay there and they live in the main ranchhouse with us. They work and they learn how to be little cowboys and cowgirls. And we take seven, eight sessions, take 10 kids at a time and they live at the main ranchhouse. Doesn't sound like a lot of kids, but it's a humongous amount. It's like having 10 kids over to your house. That's what it is. And me and Wyatt and me and Dierdre are here. And then down the hall are all the kids. You know, we have some child life specialists live in this huge hacienda that she built out there. And did you see the spin that "Architectural Digest" did on the ranch?

KING: I sure did.

IMUS: They did a beautiful job, didn't they?

KING: Yes, and there was some people critical of it?

IMUS: I don't know.

KING: No. I thought somebody that, did the money go to make a beautiful thing?

IMUS: Oh, no. We did what we said we would do. We built a world class facility.

KING: You sure did.

IMUS: The money has poured in since then. But I mean, it changes these kids' lives. Interestingly, one of the kids who was out there this past summer had had -- and you know, you got -- I told my wife and my brother, I said, you know, you can't get attached to these kids. I mean, you can be nice to them, and you can -- but, you know, I mean, I was talking out of both sides of my mouth because you get attached to them. And I sent this one kid out, and he had had three brain operations.

KING: Last summer, he was there?

IMUS: Yes. So he came to the ranch and his head was still swollen. It was not good. But he was OK. He could work. We got him up on some horses and stuff. So, he's gotten over -- since then, he has gotten progressively worse, you know. And it reached the point where the doctors here in New York just couldn't anything more for him.

So remember that guy I was telling you about, Waldo Levine. Maybe you don't remember.

KING: Sure. IMUS: Well, he and my wife -- he introduced my wife to Dr. James Suen down at the Arkansas Cancer Research Center. He was a wonderful, brilliant physician himself. And it's a marvelous facility there. And so, we sent the kid down yesterday through this corporate angel network on a private jet. Have you heard about them? Man, they do great work.

KING: You mean, they send the kid down...

IMUS: If you have a private jet like we do and you are flying around, if you are a corporation like Time Warner, whatever, and you are flying someplace, you let them know. And if they have a got kid, say, going to L.A. and you just put the kid on the plane with you. I mean, anytime we have ever flown any place, we've always had empty seats. I mean, there's three or four of us on a plane, you know.

So anyway, Dr. Gazi Yasargil -- a Professor Gazi Yasargil, who is the No. 1 foremost microneurosurgeon in the world, and he's agreed to operate on this kid. Now that doesn't mean that he's going to -- I mean, everybody understands that -- but he's -- so they're going to -- the kid, they took him down yesterday.

KING: I did not know you did things beyond the ranch?

IMUS: Well, I don't. I mean, this is all my wife's doing.

KING: But your group, your people, your wife, arranged this?

IMUS: Well, it wasn't through our ranch. I mean, she -- I guess she does...

KING: That's where you met him.

IMUS: Yes. She got -- I don't know exactly how to explain it, other than she does -- she has the center over at Hackensack, you know, the medical center, Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology. And she founded this center to try to determine what elements of the environment contribute to causing cancer. And so, that and the fact that the kid was at the ranch, and coincidentally, the kid's mother also happened to work at this radio station where I work here in New York. And so, there have been a lot of people involved in this, but my wife is like a pit bull. I mean, if she -- if she would not -- she would establish a relationship with these doctors and she's very persuasive. Well, you met her. She's very likable and very -- she's a straight shooter. And she would just absolutely not take no for an answer. And so, they -- so the kid flew down yesterday and was supposed to come back tonight, but they're going to keep him there; 16 years old, and they think they can help him, you know?

KING: Well, let's get a call. We'll loop it through the control room. They tell me we can it try that way. West Warwick, Rhode Island, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Good evening to both of you.

KING: Hi. CALLER: I happen to be a big Imus fan. I really admire Don Imus. And I would like to know if there is anyone who impresses him or who he really admires, looks up to?

KING: She's a big fan and has trouble finding someone you are impressed with. Who impresses Imus?

IMUS: Well, a lot of people. A lot of people.

KING: Off the top of your head.

IMUS: Well, I mean, well -- McCain. I like you. I mean, not to patronize you, but I do like you.

KING: Thank you.

IMUS: I like Dennis Miller. I love Dennis Miller. I mean, I think he is brilliant. I wish he wouldn't do the football thing. It's just demeaning for him. I mean, there's all kinds of people, Frank Rich.

KING: I love Frank.

IMUS: Anna Quinlan, Maureen Dowd.

KING: Do you think people maybe don't understand that your show is, first, in entertainment?

IMUS: Yes, that's all it is. It's not "Meet The Press" or "Face The Nation." It's not that. It's to try to be amusing. Now, it doesn't mean that we don't have people on that ask serious questions, but generally, it's to try to trap them into saying something, you know...

KING: Hopefully that will...

IMUS: I admire my wife. I admire my brother. I mean, I'm not patronizing them either.

KING: The relationship between you and your brother is terrific in that the -- every time you talk to him, it's I love you. Has it always been that way, because brothers can have their moments?

IMUS: Oh, I do love him. I mean, you know, he's impossible. My wife and I, it just makes us crazy. She's as close to him as I am. I mean, she -- in fact, she's more protective of him than I am. I get -- and, you know, he has his side of the story, too, by the way.

KING: By the way, the ranch you said opens in April?

IMUS: Well, we're taking some kids from Hamilton, Jordan (ph) and his wife have the Sunshine Camp. He's a good guy too. They have some kids in Atlanta and through the AFLAC insurance company, these are kids with cancer and we're going to take a group out in April.

KING: Earlier than usual? IMUS: Yes. We would have them there all year, but they have to go to school. So, we start in June, and we're there from June, July and August.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Don Imus on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's take another call for Don Imus, host of the "Imus in The Morning Show" and of course it's on WFAN in New York, and heard nationally on syndicated spots and, of course, seen on MSNBC as well. They don't show the whole four hours though, right?

IMUS: You sound drunk.

KING: What do you mean? They don't show the whole four hours?

IMUS: I don't know about that.

KING: Sound drunk?

IMUS: You couldn't explain that we are on 100 radio stations around the country. That's all we care about. The MSNBC, that's fine, but -- you know.

KING: Newport Beach, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi, Larry this is for Imus. I had a question and compliment.

KING: Go.

CALLER: First of all, I'm wondering what nationality IMUS is?

KING: What's the compliment?

CALLER: The compliment is I haven't seen him without his hat on, and he has got fantastic hair. It's fantastic.

KING: I must tell you that in the makeup room before the show, he was expressing doubts about how his hair, it looks good.

IMUS: Thanks. I'm Welsh, English, Irish.

KING: So you cover many things. What did you make of the Mike Tyson thing being turned down?

IMUS: He should be put to sleep. He's a sicko.

KING: What? Don. He's a human being. IMUS: He and Martha Stewart. You could make a list of people that should be put to sleep. And those two are right at the top of the list.

KING: It would benefit society?

IMUS: Absolutely. Please, get him out of here.

KING: You would you have denied him a license?

IMUS: He's a psychopath. He rapes people -- come on. No -- he's -- he's --

KING: Why do you think he's boxing's only real major draw? It's true.

IMUS: I wouldn't buy the fight.

KING: You wouldn't --

IMUS: Absolutely not. No. Absolutely not.

KING: $39.

IMUS: I buy all of those fights. Like my brother says, it's great satisfaction when you can see on the screen that says, you are authorized for this program.

KING: I like that.

IMUS: It's a great sense of empowerment. It's great, isn't it? You get all of the football games.

KING: Oh, yes.

IMUS: But not that. No. The guy is just disgusting. You know? I don't think he can go around keep raping people. You can't do that. Obviously, you can't do that, but the guy -- no, no, no.

KING: Do you ever think of retiring?

IMUS: Well, I just signed a new five-year deal, so -- did you leak how mush, by the way how much --

KING: I never leaked anything.

IMUS: What?

KING: I never leaked a thing. I wouldn't do that. Nobody's been right.

IMUS: Do we know how that happened?

KING: Nobody's had the right figure.

IMUS: If I guessed, would you tell me? KING: Not even in close. Off the air I would tell -- you are my friend, I would tell you. On the air I would never broadcast it. Let's say I am very happy.

IMUS: Well you should be.

KING: You got mad because you thought you were making less than me. You make a fortune.

IMUS: You should be. But I mean --

KING: You're mad because you thought you were making less than me. You make a fortune. You make, because you own your property, you own your show, don't you?

IMUS: I don't know if I do or not.

KING: You don't know if you do?

IMUS: I don't think we do, no.

KING: But the "Imus in the Morning" program is an entity. You're paid as a corporation, but you're not an employee of anyone?

IMUS: No.

KING: You've had a nice deal for a long time.

IMUS: I worked for Mel, I mean, that's who I work for.

KING: Mel Carterson. And -- you -- commercials. You prove your worth. We prove our worth. That's all this business is. There's a lot of jealousy in the business, you'll agree with that.

IMUS: Yes.

KING: You've had to put up with it a long time. I mean, you're a wealthy person. But you give back and I think that's --

IMUS: I just wanted to make sure you weren't pulling some --

KING: No, no, no. I would never do that. First of all --

IMUS: You have never addressed it.

KING: I don't know how that benefits me.

IMUS: I didn't understand, either.

KING: I don't know how the purpose would benefit me.

IMUS: I think this is someone who didn't like you at CNN, don't you think?

KING: That would be my guess, because they would wanted to create discourse. IMUS: What do you care? Did you get upset about it?

KING: No. What, are you Mike Wallacing me?

IMUS: You know, your kids are cute. The disc jockey in Boston is right. We should both be put to sleep along with Mike Tyson and Martha Stewart. I mean, there's no reason to live.

What did you ask me before?

KING: Enough of my kids.

IMUS: Your kids are cute.

KING: Why didn't you have another one. Why didn't you have another one?

IMUS: She didn't want to have sex with me. I don't know why. You know, we talked about it, but --

KING: Two are better than one.

IMUS: But he wouldn't put up with it, Wyatt, I don't know. He's not like -- I know people say -- he's not a normal kid. He is so, you know why, because we raised him and when I say no television or videos, that's exactly what I mean.

KING: The kid has a final coming in Spanish and French. He ain't four years old.

IMUS: He's doing homework. But I mean --

KING: Let's get a call in. Henderson, Nevada, quickly. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. I'm calling to find out if you are ever going to be on in the Las Vegas area?

KING: He's not on the radio in Las Vegas?

CALLER: No.

IMUS: Well, we used to be.

KING: I'm shocked that. That town should be wacko for you.

IMUS: We were on, and I don't know.

KING: Do you get involved in what stations you're on?

IMUS: Sometimes.

KING: Do you call up station managers and say, put me on?

IMUS: No. But I have a good relationship. I do whatever they want.

KING: You got 30 seconds. How's your health since the ribs? Everything okay?

IMUS: Yes, seems to be OK.

KING: Breathing OK?

IMUS: I'm working out.

KING: You haven't smoked in how long?

IMUS: Years.

KING: You still chew Nicorette?

IMUS: Well, what are you going to do?

KING: Another habit?

IMUS: I could chew Dentyne, I guess.

KING: I-man, always a pleasure. My man, Don Imus of "Imus in the Morning" fame.

We will break and when we come back, we'll tell you about tomorrow night and some other nights ahead. This is another edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We hope that you have enjoyed it. We'll be right back. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're in New York again tomorrow night and our guests will be senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, we will get caught up on his newest battle with melanoma of the skin.

And Walter Cronkite, the most recognized journalist, ever, I think will be aboard as well. Speaking of recognized journalists, here's Aaron Brown!

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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