CNN LARRY KING WEEKEND
Encore Presentation: Interview With Ann Richards
Aired February 17, 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, straight talk and Texas sass. The always outspoken Ann Richards. How did this Lone Star lady wind up in the Big Apple? She's next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.
We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE a frequent guest, a sometimes host of this program, the honorable Ann Richards. Now, why are you living in New York?
ANN RICHARDS (D), FORMER GOVERNOR, TEXAS: Larry, I just had the opportunity of a lifetime. A company called Public Strategies -- it's been very successful in Texas. A lot of friends work there. And the fellow who runs it, Jack Martin, came to me and I was working in Washington and he said, I need to -- I need to spread my wings. Public Strategies is ready to go to New York. And why don't you go up there and open the office for me?
And how could a girl turn down an offer like that? And it's the best thing, Larry. I have never had such a good time. Man, what a town. And maybe it's because I'm just a country girl at heart. But to be able to be in a city that has the very best of everything, of music and drama and nightlife and bookstores and movie theaters, oh, it is the nuts. And I live right in the middle of it.
KING: And you didn't know that when you were a visitor?
RICHARDS: Well, I knew that it was a nice place to come. But it is so much more to that, than that. Somebody said to me the other day, New York is a nice place to live but not a good place to visit.
KING: And you also have...
RICHARDS: I like it because everything is right there in your neighborhood. People don't know that New York really is just made up of a group of very small neighborhoods. And you have your own deli and you have your own grocery store and movie theater and everything is within walking distance. And I walk to work, to my office on 5th and 56th Street. So I walk about a mile and a half in the morning and home in the afternoon. And it's just wonderful. And the people -- cops will stop me on the street and they'll say, hey, governor, welcome to New York, you know. It's terrific.
KING: Were you there on September 11? RICHARDS: I was here. I was in a hotel and I was looking for office space. I was looking for a place to live. And to tell you the truth, the first thing I thought, Larry, was what I thought when I was in Dallas and John Kennedy was killed. I thought I have got to get home. Whatever home means to you, your instinct is that I have got to get to the place where I feel safe, where I feel protected, where I know there are people who love me.
And the more I thought about it, in reality, America is my home. I have always thought of home as being that little country place where I grew up. But the reality is that this whole nation means so much to us and we don't really think about it or realize it until something happens like that travesty on 9/11.
KING: And the way New York handled it.
RICHARDS: And the way New York handled it. But do you know what I think happened? I think a lot of New Yorkers realized how much they love New York. It was an amazing thing to see. And you know how New Yorkers have the reputation, you know, the cab drivers are impatient and the people taking the change are -- well, don't you have a smaller bill?
But I got into a little grocery store to get some stuff to take to the hotel room. Everyone was so cordial, so kind, so gentle. Now, things are getting back to normal a little bit. But, still, you hear -- you still hear the residue of it, the pride that people take in New York, how happy they are to say that they're New Yorkers. I think that that event was a catalyst event that will affect people in this city for years to come.
KING: All right. Now, let's run down some issues. The State of the Union speech made by the man who followed you in office, the -- he followed you. You were governor. He was governor, and now he's president. What did you think of it?
RICHARDS: Well, I thought the performance was great. I think he's really improved his speaking style. I thought the speech writer should get an "A", because it was a very well-crafted speech. The criticisms I have is, No. 1, I'm a little bit afraid of being in a war in four places at one time. When he starts telling me that we're going to be at war in Afghanistan, or we're going to have peacekeepers there, and then we're going to be in Iraq and we're going to be in Iran, and we're going to be in Korea, that makes me a little bit nervous.
I think the reason we were so successful in Afghanistan is that there were Afghani troops on the ground. There was resistance there. There were fighters that did help us because we armed them and we equipped them and we told them what to do. I don't know that we have that elsewhere. I want to make sure that in any next conflict, that we have the full support of our allies, like we had in Afghanistan. And I give Bush and the cabinet and the administration real high marks for the way they conducted that war, kept all our friends together, kept them close knit. But when we start talking about expanding wars, it scares me a little bit. KING: Are you generally surprised by his performance or not?
RICHARDS: No. I'm really not. And it's not to take anything away from him, Larry. But, crises are the things that elected officials love the best. If you can give us a serious and tough, tough crisis, where you don't have a bunch of detractors who are sniping at you about other little old bitty stuff, that partisan stuff that has a tendency to get into the newspapers. When you are focused, everybody on your team is focused and you are driving straight ahead, it is an officeholder's dream, not that you would ever want the nightmare that they were trying to deal with. But the fact that you have a team to pull together and have no distractions is a wonderful sense of working together and accomplishing things.
KING: Does that performance rating given him by the public, 84 percent, give you pause as a Democrat?
RICHARDS: Well, I think the next election is going to be very hard for a Democrat. I think it's -- that is the next presidential election. But George has got -- George has got tough times coming. I mean, you don't have to be a mathematician to listen to that speech last night and hear promises about health care, education, low-cost pharmaceuticals, a patients' bill of rights. I mean, there was everything any Democrat could ask for thrown into that speech.
But it doesn't add up. You can't tell me that we're going to raise the salaries of everybody in the military; we're going to do all of this new defense stuff that runs like a trillion dollars itself and do all this domestic agenda and still have just a little old teeny nothing deficit. We're fixing to start paying a lot of money in interest on that deficit. And when that happens, I think George has got some problems.
KING: We're going to take a break and come back with more of the honorable Ann Richards. Lots to talk about, including her battle against osteoporosis and what she's doing about that, how that affects a lot of women.
This is LARRY KING LIVE. Tomorrow night, Oral Roberts and Lennox Lewis, the current heavy -- former and current heavyweight champion of the world. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARDS: I, Ann Willis Richards, do solemnly swear...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That I will faithfully execute the duties...
RICHARDS: That I will faithfully execute the duties...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... of the office of governor of the state of Texas.
RICHARDS: ... of the officer of governor of the state of Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and will... (APPLAUSE)
KING: We're back with Governor Ann Richards. We will be including your phone calls. What do you make, Governor, of this death threat made by this group in Pakistan against -- they're holding the "Wall Street Journal" reporter and the threat against all journalists, get out in three days or you're all going to be in -- have big troubles?
RICHARDS: Of course, I think -- I think kidnapping and those foreign kidnappings are the most frightening things in the world because -- and I'm sure this administration feels that. It sort of damned if you do and damned if you don't. Heaven knows how one is supposed to react to that kind of threat. It is really, really scary. And we should remember that man in our prayers. Mr. Pearl is his name, isn't it?
KING: Yes, Mr. Pearl.
RICHARDS: Why don't you ask me about Lennox Lewis, for God's sake, and Mike Tyson?
KING: What do you make of Mike -- what did you make of that decision by Nevada?
RICHARDS: Listen, I heard Mike say that he wasn't that kind of crazy. I wasn't exactly sure what kind he was.
I went out there one time for one of those fights. Oh, my God. For people who haven't seen one of those, what a circus. Are you a fight fan?
KING: I like all sports. I like boxing. Do you think Texas should license this fight and hold it in Dallas?
RICHARDS: No, they're not going to do that. They wouldn't let Mike Tyson fight in Dallas.
KING: How about New York?
RICHARDS: I don't know. New York -- you know, we need the people to come to New York. I mean, economically...
KING: That will do it.
RICHARDS: Yes. Well, I don't know. Maybe they'd do that. Do they have big fights like that up here?
KING: Yes, they do. It's a place called Madison Square Garden. Give it a visit.
RICHARDS: Oh, that's right. That's right. KING: It's over there near Penn Station. You can't miss it. It's a big building right on 8th Avenue.
RICHARDS: Oh, you know, oh, so stupid...
KING: Usually they have big lights and they have signs about Ranger games and Knick games. Try it, Ann. OK.
RICHARDS: All right.
KING: All right, now let's touch some other bases. What do you make of this Enron thing?
RICHARDS: Well, I'm going to tell you, Larry, that I was so shocked, so stunned. And everything that I read, the revelations coming out about it, does not describe the Ken Lay I knew. This guy was Mr. Public-spirited, Mr. Community. How can I help the Boy Scouts? What could I do for the art center? In fact, I called home today to find out. Enron gave $12 million last year to charities and the arts community.
There was never a more public-spirited organization. The leadership in it were always there any time you wanted to ask for anything. And when I was governor, we were really in a hole in Texas. We were desperately in need of improving the economy. And I asked Ken Lay if he would serve as the chairman of a business council because I wanted these businessmen to call other businessmen around the country and tell them that this was a good place to come to either start a business or to add on to the business that they already had.
And he was absolutely great. He came to all the meetings. He made the telephone calls. He was not one of these guys that sends an assistant or sends anybody else. So I -- let me tell you. The Ken Lay I knew was a stand-up guy who did everything he could for his community and I lost money in Enron. Heck, I think almost everybody bought stock.
KING: But the question is what do you make -- by the way, did they support you in your run against George Bush, the first campaign against him?
RICHARDS: I'll tell you exactly what happened. And wasn't that silly of George Bush saying, you know, the only reason that I kept him was it was for continuity because Governor Richards -- what a stupid thing. Why he didn't just say, well, you know, these people are really good friends of mine. They've given me a lot of money. And I'm grateful to them and I feel terrible about the employees and I feel terrible for them and I feel terrible for Houston, instead of saying it's because he is supported Ann Richards.
Here's what happened. Ken called me and he said, Anne, I'm just going to tell you. We are very, very close to the Bush family. He said, my wife is going to be in this race for George W., money, marbles and chalk. And he said, I think you've done a good job and I'm probably going to vote for you. And I'm going to give you a little money. And I couldn't even have told you how much money he gave me. But the newspaper says about $12,000.
And of course, it turns out that he gave George W. a whole bunch more than that, three or four times that. But that's inconsequential. Even though we are heartsick and angry that this company has put all of these people out of work, that some of us personally lost money, still, if someone did something good, you have to stand up and say that person at that time was my friend and not pretend that you don't know him.
KING: It sounds, Ann, like if there were a trial involving him, you'd be a character witness.
RICHARDS: Well, I certainly could be from the man I knew. Now, what happened in the inside of Enron, of course, I don't have a clue. It looked like to me, from reading the newspaper, that they were doing some incredibly energetic accounting and they had Arthur Andersen standing there telling them that they could do it, and that they had attorneys that they were asking their opinion of and the attorneys were saying you can do it.
And then when the house of cards starts to collapse, then you have a run. And everybody is going sell their stock and try their best to get the hell out of there. And I think that's exactly what brought that company down. And the sad part is what it's done for so many investors and those poor people; 4,200 people are out of work in Houston, Texas.
KING: Does the government owe them anything, do you think? What's the government's responsibility other than unemployment checks?
RICHARDS: Well, I think that the government certainly ought to examine whether or not they can extend unemployment benefits, whether there are any extraordinary measures that they can take to help these people through a period of time until they can get new jobs, because this isn't an easy time. This economy is tough. And what people are looking for all over the country are jobs. So to have 4,200 people suddenly laid off at Enron in the middle of this recession makes it even tougher.
KING: We'll be right back with more of the honorable Ann Richards. Lots more to talk about. And we'll be taking your phone calls for the former governor of Texas, the new New Yorker. We'll be right back.
KING: Before we get back to political things and we begin taking phone calls. Tell us about this osteoporosis and your battle against it. What it is, what's going on with you?
RICHARDS: Yes. Osteoporosis is a disease that attacks the bones in your body. It happens to really almost everyone when they get really old. But for women, after menopause, they can lose up to 30 percent of their bone mass. And, Larry, it disappears just like that. And what happened to me, was that my mother was getting older and I put my arm around her one day and noticed that she was shrinking, literally shrinking. Because what was happening is that the bones in her spine were beginning to collapse.
And I had noticed that the collars on my shirts were not fitting right. And it occurred to me that maybe my neck was shrinking too, and that was beginning that compaction. So I asked the doctor to give me a bone density test. And he did. It came back and he told me that I was in the beginning stages of osteoporosis.
And there's a lot of things that you can do about it, but the best thing you can do is to get in really good physical condition and do weight bearing exercise. So I went -- started to a gym. I started working out, lifting weights. I did this probably six years ago. And, of course, I'm in better shape than I have ever been in my life. I take medication. I take a pill called evista. But there's a whole lot of different pills that you can take. You have to ask the doctor what's best for you.
But every woman should make sure that they have a bone density test. Now, men are increasingly having osteoporosis diagnosis. And you know how you see people, Larry, who walk and they've got what you call a widow's hump? It's kind of -- well, men have that and women have it, too, that's osteoporosis.
KING: Do you take Calcium? I have bone density tests on every physical.
RICHARDS: What do they tell you?
KING: I'm OK, but I take a lot of calcium and I exercise.
RICHARDS: I do too. I take more vitamins than you want to hear about. But I have always taken calcium. A lot of it. Now, people will tell you, well, don't take all those vitamins. You're just making very expensive urine. It's just running right through you. I'll say, that's fine. I'm happy to produce. As long as I feel good.
KING: Are you saying that every woman over 50, or every person over 50 should have a bone density test?
RICHARDS: No question about it. Should talk to their doctor. Should say, I want to understand osteoporosis and what it can do to me. Because after menopause, I promise you it's going like that. The best thing you can do is encourage young women to begin exercising and playing sports and doing all of those things, so that they've got more bone mass to start with. Because the stronger your bone mass is, of course, the less that you lose when it starts to go.
KING: Let's start including some calls for Governor Richards. Cleveland, Ohio, hello.
CALLER: Hello, I have laryngitis, but I thought it was at least worth a try for a chance to talk to Ann Richards. I admire you and respect you and hope so much that you're going to get back into politics and run for office in New York. Is there a chance that will happen?
RICHARDS: Oh, aren't you nice? I just feel like I'm a very lucky person to have a new life outside of politics. I help my friends. I campaign for them. I travel all over the country making speeches for people I believe in. But I think my time in politics came and I loved every minute of it. But I now think it's gone. There's nothing worse than a bunch of old hangers-on that get in the way of young people running for office.
KING: He was here last night. What do you make of former Mayor Giuliani?
RICHARDS: Well, I think he was fabulous during that crisis. I was here in New York. He was sensitive. He was decisive. He did everything that you would want leader to do. And it's going to be tough for him, Larry, to get out of the way. You know, there's a new mayor now. This kind of leadership role comes natural to Giuliani. But once you've had your job and you no longer have it, you need to move on. And I think he's going to have to do that.
KING: What do you make of the question about the detainees at Guantanamo?
RICHARDS: Well, I was just in Cuba. Did they tell you I just got back from Cuba?
KING: No, they did not. But tell me about it.
RICHARDS: Excuse me.
KING: It's all right, I got the same thing.
RICHARDS: It's hot in this studio. And maybe they'll bring me some water if I cough enough.
KING: Are you OK?
RICHARDS: No. I'm really not.
KING: Let's see how you sound. If you're not ready, we'll take a break.
RICHARDS: Take a break.
KING: We'll take a break and come back with more of Ann Richards, the trip to Cuba and what she thinks. Lots more of your phone calls and some water. Don't go away.
KING: Our guest is the new New Yorker, the former governor of Texas Ann Richards. She's running the New York office of public strategies, a bipartisan PR lobbying firm. How bipartisan? The managing partner of that firm is Mark MacKinnon, an adviser to George W. Bush.
KING: That's bipartisanship. RICHARDS: We work the isle.
KING: We'll be taking a lot more calls for Governor Richards. But back to Cuba. You went to Cuba why?
RICHARDS: I went to Cuba because the Center for National Policy invited a group of people to participate in a commission to go to Cuba and to look at American policy and American relations with Cuba and make recommendations on what we saw. This is an interesting group. Madeleine Albright ran this group before she became secretary of state. And now a woman named Maureen Steinbrenner runs it.
The chairman of the group is Jim Jones, former ambassador to Mexico, former Congressman from Oklahoma. And we had Catholic priests. We had Cuban ex-patriots. We had elected officials and former elected officials who went. We spent four days down there. It was one of the most fascinating things I have ever done, Larry. I had never seen Cuba before. It must have been the most dramatically beautiful place on Earth when all of that architecture was in its heyday.
Now 40 years after the embargo and after the communists have come to power, there has been total neglect of the buildings. You've seen pictures of those old cars down there. They're really funny. I said, I know, I saw my mother-in-law's Buick, and the front end of it had my daddy's Oldsmobile grill on it. But it was fascinating to see a place that was so crumbling and yet still so magnificent to look at.
But the people were energetic. They were cheerful. They were healthy-looking. They were clean-looking. I saw no people that I would describe that were at the level of destitution, sleeping in a doorway, like we see some in this country. People are not wealthy. I didn't meet a rich person. There is a vast middle. The literacy rate is at 96 percent. They are all employed. They all have roofs over their heads. In fact, it is a human right in Cuba to have a place to live and you cannot be evicted.
KING: So what summation have you come to?
RICHARDS: We have not, as a group, reached any conclusions yet. And we will not until after this next election. But it is really sad to me to see situations in which children need medical help and this country is unwilling, because of its policies, to send it in a humanitarian way.
KING: We don't send medicine?
RICHARDS: What you have to do, if you're going to send any medicine to Cuba, you have to qualify and register with the Department of Commerce in what is a rather complex registration procedure.
RICHARDS: And as a consequence, most people, most companies, most pharmaceutical companies -- it's not a big market, it's not worth their time to go through the hassle to register to be able to do it. KING: Why is there a hassle if it's medical?
RICHARDS: Well, because the forms you have to fill out. You know about government. It's -- you know, that stuff hasn't changed.
KING: Now what about...
RICHARDS: Now, I do think, though -- listen. Anything we do must be in America's interest. We have got to figure out as a group that any recommendation we make must address American needs. I don't think we can go after this from the point of view of a totally humanitarian, we're going to help with medicine, or we're going to help with food. We have already begun that process. But I think we have to examine the policy in light of America and what it means to us.
KING: What about the detainees now and their treatment?
RICHARDS: Well, I looked at those pictures in the "New York Times," and I thought it was really scary. I never had seen prisoners that had things over their ears, and blinders over their eyes, and their hands in mittens, and their wrists bound together with metal. And they may not be hurting. You know, they may be trying to keep those people in such total isolation that they break down.
But I think that when Colin Powell raises a question about the treatment in the fashion in which that they are being treated, then I think the administration ought to listen, and I think they're going to.
KING: Let's take a call. Los Angeles for the honorable Ann Richards. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. I just wanted to ask Ann Richards what she thought -- hello?
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: Hi. I just wanted to ask Governor Richards what she thought about the job the women in Washington were doing today. And I also wanted to ask her what she thought the history of women in Washington would be. Will we ever see a woman president?
RICHARDS: Very good. The answer is that I am so proud of all those women in the Senate, I don't know what to do.
KING: Thirteen of them.
RICHARDS: Oh, my gosh, and they are strong as they can be. And I think they've won the respect of the male senators. There's no question about that. Of course, having that many in there, the men have learned they're going to have to work with them, because they have to get their votes. And in the United States Congress, I'm very proud of Nancy Pelosi, who is the Democratic whip. It is the highest position a woman has ever achieved in the U.S. House. She's really smart. She's going to be a great leader. She's a real comer.
So yeah, I'm proud of women. And I'm proud of them whether they're Democrats or Republicans. But for so long in this country, women were not offered those opportunities. And now that they are there, they have shown that their talents are definitely needed.
And are we going to have a woman president? Yes, of course we are. I think we will in my lifetime. I plan to live, you know, a little while longer, and I think -- I don't know who it's going to be. I don't know which of these people that we see coming up next, but I think the Democrats or the Republicans are going to see it to their advantage to put a woman on the ticket this very next time.
KING: Burlington, Vermont, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Ann, what a privilege.
CALLER: You're one of my heroes. What is your opinion of Senator Hillary Clinton? Isn't she terrific? Thank you. I'll listen to your answer.
KING: An objective caller.
RICHARDS: An objective caller. But I do want to give you an objective answer. I was at lunch here in New York the other day with a Republican, a man who is really smart, is a really good friend of governor Pataki's. And I said, well, tell me how it is in Washington. Because, you know, Bush had promised all of them money, and there now seems to be some question about how much they're going to get.
And he said, "I'm going to tell you this, thank God for Hillary Clinton. She has really put her shoulder to the wheel. She has done a job for New York, and we are really grateful to her." So coming from a Republican, you can't get higher praise than that. And she seems to be working very well with Chuck Schumer, and they seem to be working well with Pataki, and I think that's all to the good for the people.
KING: What do you make of the performance of Laura Bush?
RICHARDS: Well, I -- Laura Bush is a star. She is genuine. When she talks, you can tell that she's saying what she thinks, not what somebody scripted her to say -- even if they have, you know? Of course, I have a real soft spot in my heart for librarians and for women who care about books, and Laura Bush has done a wonderful job in emphasizing the importance of writers, and authors, and books, and libraries, and teachers in this country.
KING: Our guest is Governor Ann Richards, who was with us all of election night. Election night turned into two months. RICHARDS: It went on forever, didn't it?
KING: That was some night.
We're going to take a break, come back. More questions, more phone calls. Tomorrow night, don't forget, exclusive interview, the heavyweight champion of the world, Lennox Lewis. We'll also have the evangelist Oral Roberts aboard.
This is LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back with Governor Richards after this.
KING: We're back with Governor Richards. Before we take some more calls, what do you make of homeland security, Governor Ridge and that whole setup?
RICHARDS: Well, if you want me to tell you the truth, I totally got impatient with him telling me to be alert. You know, living in Texas, we know what to do when they tell you you're in a tornado alert. It means you get in a ditch or you lie down flat or you get in a bathtub and put a mattress over the top of you. And you know what to do in a hurricane and, you know, there are all of these rules.
But when they tell me to be on alert, be on high alert, I don't know whether I'm supposed to get under my bed or what. So I wanted homeland security to be a little bit more specific about what I was supposed to do, whether I was supposed to watch the cab driver or stay home and not go anywhere. Do you understand? And I'm sure that one of these days they're going to do that.
I remember when we were school children and we had specific things we were supposed to do in case of a nuclear attack. So if there are things that we are supposed to do, I think the government ought to tell us what they are. I was surprised in the speech last night that the president mentioned specific plans that they had seen because that was new information to me. Wasn't it to you? I hadn't heard that they had drawings of power plants and that they had cities mapped out that they had found somewhere in Afghanistan. So I was really surprised by all of that. And I would like to know more about what they were doing and what they were planning to do.
KING: Are you comfortable at airports? We had a security lapse today at San Francisco International. Screeners detected residue on a man's shoes, but he was given back the shoes and he left before he could be questioned further and that caused the whole calamity at SF...
RICHARDS: Oh, my God. Well, tell you the truth, you know, I fly all the time. And I feel very comfortable in those airports. And I have had to take my shoes off and step aside and be patted down and all of that. I think they're doing the best they can do. We're human beings. None of these processes are going to be perfect. You just have to ask them to do their very best. Some of this stuff gets to the point that you think it's kind of goofy. You know, I have lost a Swiss army knife and some nail clippers. But people are very, very kind. They're willing to do whatever is asked of them to do, at least they have been in all the airports I have been in. Now some...
KING: Philadelphia -- I'm sorry, go ahead.
RICHARDS: That's all right. Go ahead.
KING: Philadelphia, hello.
CALLER: Good evening, Ann.
CALLER: My question is -- hello.
KING: Yes, go ahead.
CALLER: OK. My question is tonight, Ann, I would like to know what your thoughts are as a political leader and a woman as to whether or not we should rebuild the Twin Towers or we should put a memorial there. What are your thoughts on that tonight, Ann?
RICHARDS: Oh, man. You know, there are so many decision makers in this question, you would not believe it up here. And everybody has an opinion. And I suspect what will finally shake out of this will be probably a combination of all of it.
There's no doubt that they're going to put together some kind of impressive memorial there. It may be in the form of a park. It may be in the form of something of open space with something significant in the center or around the borders of it. And I think some of the people down there want to attract business there and they want to have some office space. So they may, you know, build a different kind of structure. I'd be very surprised if we saw towers go up there again.
KING: Woodstock, New York, hello.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: Hello, Governor Richards...
RICHARDS: Yes, ma'am.
CALLER: It's such an honor to talk to you.
RICHARDS: Thank you.
CALLER: My question is we all know that the mainstream media is corporately owned...
CALLER: ... and I wonder if you believe, as I do, that there is a lot of influence as to what gets published or broadcast or telecast as opposed to what isn't. For example, the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Their reports didn't see the light of day on the front pages or at the top of the news.
KING: Do you think corporations controlling the media? Does that worry you, Ann?
RICHARDS: Well, my experience has been that when the media is telling a story the way I want them to tell it, then they're doing a good job. And if they're not telling it the way I don't want them to tell it, then somebody's not doing a good job, whether it's a corporation or not.
But let me address specifically her frustration. And that is something of the significance of a report of the Civil Rights Commission. Now, you would think that when a report like that comes out that talks about civil rights in this country, that it would be top of the 6:00 news. But the reality of it is that the way news runs now, they run with the hottest story, even if it is a car wreck out on the loop outside of town. They're going to run with that story and you'll be lucky to be able to get significant news like the Civil Rights Commission report on the news at all.
And that's where you have to count on the newspapers for giving us the story. You're simply not going to see it on television because television is a motion -- is a motion picture. And if there's not motion in it, if there are not people involved in it that has a picture, then they're not going to put it on there.
KING: It's not a nefarious corporate plot. It's economics, isn't it?
RICHARDS: Oh, sure it's economics. And they, you know...
KING: I mean, there are whackos out there who that think there's some sort of cabal among the media to plan things as to what they promote and what they don't promote when in fact, the story rings true. If it's there, it's there.
RICHARDS: I bet on enough programs to know there's very little planning.
KING: I have never seen in my 45 years -- I have never seen two guys get together in a news room and say, let's get this out there.
RICHARDS: I know. I know (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Yes.
KING: Miami, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello. I'm looking forward to talking to Governor Richards.
KING: You are? CALLER: Yes, I am.
RICHARDS: How are you?
CALLER: Fine, thank you. You've already answered two or three of the questions I had, so let me ask you this. What is your feeling on the subject of the young man they're calling the American Taliban, Walker, John Walker. Do you think -- what do you think should happen to Mr. Walker?
KING: What about that dilemma?
RICHARDS: Well, I think he should be tried. And he obviously is going to be. And whatever punishment is meeted out on him, then he is going to get his just desserts. I do think that it was wise on the part of the administration not to try him for a crime that would result in the death penalty. I think it was important for them to try him as best they could under the circumstances for what he committed and I hope that he is punished. And I hope he is punished severely.
I think that any time that you have someone who is disloyal and perhaps this young man was totally misguided because we all have sons that we think, oh, my gosh, I wish they hadn't done that. But this was such an egregious offense that I'm sure he's going to spend a lot of his life in the pen.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Governor Ann Richards on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. don't go away.
KING: We're back with Governor Richards. New York City, hello.
CALLER: Yes, Governor Richards. I heard a rumor that you were going to do a radio talk show with Liz Smith. What happened to that great idea?
KING: That's a good idea. Why don't you two do a show, television, radio?
RICHARDS: I'm so glad you asked! Well, my buddy Liz Smith, who writes a wonderful gossip column and who's also from Texas, a good old girl. We were talking and I told her, I said, "Liz, we need to go on the radio." Because first of all, neither one of us have the faces to go on television. And I told her, I wasn't willing to get a face lift just to, you know, have a show. So I said, let's go on radio. That way they can't see us, and we can have a call-out show instead of a call-in show.
RICHARDS: And that way, we could just call the people we want to talk to, and we don't have to listen to all those nuts who would call in. KING: You'd start a whole new wave in talk radio, call-out radio.
RICHARDS: Absolutely. And we could call anybody we want to. And I said, we'd call all our friends who would talk about their hip replacements and we'd talk...
RICHARDS: We'd talk about whether the flavored metamucil is better than the plain.
KING: Now, wait a minute, is this on deck? Is this going to happen, or is this just like a running gag?
RICHARDS: Well, I hope one of these days that it does, because I think Liz and I would have a wonderful time, and I think we would sew up the Palm Beach and Palm Springs market without any doubt.
KING: Hey, you'd do pretty good in Boca Raton too. Palm Springs? How about Phoenix?
RICHARDS: Phoenix we could -- we'd have the Phoenix market cold. And just think of all the advertisers that we would have.
KING: St. Joseph, Missouri -- radio people, contact Liz Smith or Governor Ann Richards, they're ready to go. The call-out show.
St. Joseph, Missouri, hello.
CALLER: Good evening. Ann, you're stunning. My question is, when are you going to write your sizzling, spicy, tell-all biography?
KING: When are we going to get that?
RICHARDS: Well, I wrote a biography right after the key note speech. And to tell you the truth, Larry, it just bored me to tears. I mean, talking about yourself for a week straight to somebody who's going to write a book is...
KING: Drives you nuts.
RICHARDS: Oh, yeah. There's no fun in that. And there's really not enough money, either, to justify it. But the book was called "Straight From the Heart: My Life in Politics and Other Places." So you might look it up on Amazon. Maybe they could pick it up or a remainder or something. But I told all I'm never going to tell in that.
KING: You sure did. And you were very honest about your battle with alcoholism. You have been sober how long now?
RICHARDS: This year will be 22 years.
KING: Are there moments when you want a drink? RICHARDS: Never. But I'm lucky. Ever since I sobered up and, you know, I went to drunk school, and I came home -- just the smell of alcohol is really offensive to me. It's like smelling DDT or something. I just -- I immediately think, oh, I can't get near that.
Now, that's not true of cigarettes. Man, I'd give anything in the world if I could smoke. That's the worst -- nicotine is the worst addiction that there is. And as an alcoholic, I feel justified and qualified to tell you that.
KING: You know, I never drank, but I did smoke. And I had a heart attack and stopped that day. I don't miss it. But you found cutting out tobacco harder than cutting out liquor?
RICHARDS: Oh, yeah, yeah. I thought stopping smoking was the hardest thing. And every time I'm in a crisis now, like -- when we were here in New York and those planes flew into the Twin Towers, the first thing I thought of was that I wish I had a cigarette.
KING: Really? How long since you've smoked?
RICHARDS: Oh, it's been a long time. I don't even know. Years. But I just think giving up tobacco is just -- it is the hardest thing anybody -- because it's around you all the time. You know? The alcohol, I don't know. Once I found out I could be funny without it, it was -- you know, I never really thought about it again. And that's true.
KING: Do you like lobbying?
RICHARDS: I like solving problems. I like putting together the strategy necessary to come to the right conclusion and the right end. I like clients that come to me and say, OK, here's where we are. We got a problem over here, we got one over here, and we got a situation there, and we need to bring all of this stuff together into one piece and get it resolved. I love dealing with things like that.
KING: But you don't like calling up Senator Foster and saying, senator, I need this vote?
RICHARDS: Yeah. I don't mind doing that. But that's not really what lobbying is like.
KING: Lobbying is informational, isn't it? The good lobbyists.
RICHARDS: Yeah, the best lobbyists never ask for a vote. The best lobbyist goes and presents their point of view. Usually, a lot of times to staff. Says, you know, this is what we think, we think -- and here's materials if you'd like to read some more. And please call me.
In the work that I do now, I very seldom do direct lobbying, although I am happy to do that. I'm now more in the role of a problem solver for any issue that affects the public and government.
KING: I can't think of a better one. Thank you so much. Always great to see you. We'll see you in New York.
RICHARDS: Oh, you too. I miss you, Larry. Come on back.
KING: Miss you.
Ann Richards, the honorable Ann Richards, former governor of the state of Texas.
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