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Salt Lake City Police Focus Attention on Ricci; Interview With Don Imus

Aired June 28, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Don Imus. Got an issue, he's got an opinion. The I-man, outspoken. We'll take calls.

But first, the latest on the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping. Still no official suspect, but a lot of attention on Richard Albert Ricci, an ex-con who worked at the Smart home. From Salt Lake, one of Elizabeth's aunts, Cynthia Smart Owens. Then, the attorney for Richard Ricci and his wife Angela, David Smith. The wife, Angela. The attorney is David Smith.

Plus, Court TV anchor and former prosecutor Nancy Grace, defense attorney Mark Geragos, and covering the case for "Newsweek," Kevin Peraino. All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We start in Salt Lake with Cynthia Smart Owens, Elizabeth's aunt. She's the sister of Ed Smart, the father of Elizabeth. The family issued a long statement today, uniting with all families in America who have had children abducted and say they want to tie a light blue ribbon around trees in homes and neighborhoods not only in honor of Elizabeth, but for all families with a missing child. What do you make of that, Cynthia?

CYNTHIA SMART OWENS, ELIZABETH SMART'S AUNT: I appreciate you repeating that. That's exactly what we're hoping to do. You know, initially, because Elizabeth's favorite color was light blue, we were hanging these blue ribbons around and wearing them and showing hope for her. But this is so much bigger than just Elizabeth.

It's amazing how many children have been abducted since Elizabeth has been. And it's a long and grueling process and we just have to decide that we're tired of it and we will not allow this to continue on. It's just absolutely outrageous that this happens. So we need to show solidarity that we're going to pursue these people, not allow it to happen any more.

KING: You feel that's the only kind of preventative, by coming down hard when these people are caught?

OWENS: Well, no. Actually, there is a lot more to it. I think creating the kind of homes and communities where people don't develop this kind of mental illness where they think they can do this is really where it starts. It's really much bigger than that. But I think we can also all be on the lookout for the children in our communities and for these other missing children.

KING: How has it been for you, the aunt? It's your brother's kid.

OWENS: Well, I think particularly at night, it's so nice to have our children with us and feel that we're secure in our homes. And to think that Elizabeth is not there and wonder where she is, it's very hard. We're just trying to stick it out and have faith. And it's really our faith and the support of so many wonderful people that are helping us get through this.

KING: Doesn't optimism, though, wane after a while, after this long a period?

OWENS: Somewhat. I think it's just an inner hope that we feel, though, a spiritual hope, a strength through God. And we know that his will will be done. But we're praying that his will allow Elizabeth to come home.

KING: Do you have any thoughts on Mr. Ricci?

OWENS: He's certainly a suspicious character. It's hard because we don't have access to all of the evidence that the police do to make any kind of a judgment. And I'm sure if they had enough information, they would be stronger than they have been already. But we'll be anxious to see what it brings. We certainly would like to feel like we're getting closer to getting Elizabeth back home.

KING: In that sense, you would hope then that it's not him, right?

OWENS: It seems somewhat grim if it is he.

KING: Because, you know, then where is Elizabeth, and if he's been in jail for over two weeks. You talk about your faith. Don't you ever question that during something like this?

OWENS: Well, we always like to believe the best. And I think sometimes when we listen to ourselves, we have to say, are we listening to what we want to believe or really a higher power that's guiding us?

There are times, I admit, where I kind of think, you know, what are the odds at this point and where is she and how is she and get somewhat discouraged. Today, I was talking to Edward and I said, Edward, how do you really feel? And he was -- we were talking about a lot of different things about Mr. Ricci and others, and that was the one thing he absolutely perked up on very quickly. And he said, I really feel very, very strongly that she's alive and that helps strengthen the rest of our hope too.

KING: Thank you. Cynthia Smart Owens, Elizabeth's aunt, the sister of Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father.

Joining us now in Salt Lake City is David K. Smith. He is the attorney for both Riccis, Mr. Ricci and his wife. Richard Ricci issued a statement late this afternoon. I guess, did you -- David, were you the office that issued this statement?


KING: Let me read it quickly. This is the statement by the -- not a suspect, not by -- by Mr. Ricci: "First, I want to say I have no knowledge of Elizabeth Smart's abduction, disappearance or whereabouts. I want to say to the Smart family from my family, Angela, my stepson and myself, that we pray for her safe return. I too lost a nine-year-old son in an accident in 1985 and I know what Ed and Lois are going through. I've cooperated fully with the FBI, the police and AP&P. I have taken polygraph tests, have been through 26 hours of questioning, given blood, DNA, surrendered my vehicle. The police and FBI have searched my hope and shed and have even dug up my garden and they found nothing. I think the reason I'm involved is because of my past. I would not nor could not hurt a child in any way. The night of Elizabeth's disappearance, I was home with my wife, Angela. I awoke around six to 6:30 p.m. to hear on the news that Elizabeth Smart, Ed's daughter, had been kidnapped. I was in shock."

What about the other arguments, David, or the other concepts that seem to point to him? What does he tell you?

SMITH: He tells me that he just had nothing to do with it, and he is just amazed by her disappearance. He hopes that she can be found and returned to the Smart family.

KING: Is this a case, David, where his prior record, although not dealing with abductions and the like, is running against him?

SMITH: Yes, I think so.

KING: So, how, from a legal standpoint, do you handle it?

SMITH: Well, I think we go day by day at this point. We want to make sure that he's protected from a legal standpoint in terms of what information goes out and how that information may be disseminated to various media.

But we also are in the process of gathering information to help us in the event that he may be charged. We certainly don't want to fall behind the eight ball on that.

KING: You expect that? There is a grand jury investigation. Do you expect charges or not?

SMITH: I think it's too early for me to say. It's pointing, perhaps, to perhaps something more than just an investigation. But I honestly don't know all that the police know. They're not telling anybody everything they know. And perhaps when we do hear more information, we'll be able to form a better judgment on that.

KING: CNN is reporting that investigators are checking whether the Riccis are legally wed. I know you represent both of them. If, per chance, they are not, does that mean she doesn't have the spousal recusal from testifying? SMITH: Well, that's the first that I've heard of that, but that may be an issue if they are not legally wed. They advised me that they were legally wed on Valentine's Day.

KING: Does she stand strongly by her statement that he was home all night with her?

SMITH: Very strongly.

KING: Is she being called before the grand jury again, do you know?

SMITH: She may be. She testified day before yesterday. And they had her on hold, if it were, so she may be called back.

KING: Is he a man, David, if he didn't do this -- we're looking at Angela now -- caught up in one of those web of circumstances where everything points without exactly hitting the mark?


KING: Like the 1,000 miles on the car. Have you asked him about that?

SMITH: I have.

KING: And?

SMITH: It's really not appropriate for me to talk about that because of the ongoing investigation. But I have asked him about it.

KING: Does the answer satisfy you?

SMITH: Yes, it does.

KING: How did you get this case?

SMITH: I represented Angela on an unrelated civil matter and then she called me when this -- Mr. Ricci was taken up and booked by the police.

KING: A neighbor on this program last night, Carma Tolman, says that after Ricci's parole violation arrest, Angela told her, or she had heard, that Angela was asking neighbors in the trailer park if they had seen Richard leave the trailer that night. Is that wrong information?

SMITH: Yes, that's wrong information.

KING: In other words, to your knowledge, she did not go around asking neighbors if they saw Richard leave the trailer?

SMITH: I asked her about that this morning. And she said that's not accurate.

KING: That she never did anything like that? SMITH: Yes. Yes.

KING: Do you expect some resolution here? Do you think -- are the police working in all areas, by the way, away from your client as well?

SMITH: I don't know. You hear that they're working on other leads, certainly. And I hope that they are. I hope that they're not excluding other possible evidence that could lead to another person to the exclusion of looking exclusively into Mr. Ricci.

KING: And finally, David, he said he's cooperated fully with the FBI, police and AP&P. Who is that?

SMITH: Adult Probation and Parole.

KING: I see. So they're all part of the questioning team.

SMITH: Yes. Adult Probation and Parole is involved because of his parole violation.

KING: Thank you, David. We'll be calling on you again. David K. Smith, the attorney for the Riccis.

Nancy Grace, Mark Geragos and Kevin Peraino will join us.

Then Imus. Tomorrow night, we repeat our interview with Leslie Van Houten, denied parole again today. Don't go away.


KING: Welcome back. In Boston tonight is Nancy Grace, the anchor for "Trial Heat" on Court TV, former prosecutor. In L.A., here, is Mark Geragos, defense attorney, and in Salt Lake City, Kevin Peraino, correspondent for "Newsweek."

What are you doing in Boston, Nancy?

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well, I'm here working on a victim's rights issue and I'm totally overwhelmed by what I just heard regarding David Smith, and what he had to say. I notice that he wouldn't commit himself to an explanation of that 1,000 miles that turned up on the odometer. You know why? Because he doesn't want that to come up and bite him in the neck come trial time if we ever get that far.

KING: What do you make, Mark, of the statement by Mr. Ricci?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I thought it was interesting. You know, we talked last night about the -- what I thought they were doing and he confirmed today, 26 hours. Twenty-six hours worth of questioning of this gentleman, which is exactly what I expect or would expect the police to be doing. They want to see if they can pin him down and get that story to change all along.

Also, apparently, he took a polygraph, but one of the things that was omitted from the statement was whether or not he passed the polygraph. That's one of the things that I would want to know.

One of the other things that I thought was interesting, too, was this idea that he's trying to debunk the I guess Angela -- this idea that she was running around trying to canvas...


GERAGOS: ... the trailer park -- right -- and see whether or not there was anybody else that might impeach this alibi.

GRACE: Yeah, but Mark...

GERAGOS: There was a story out today, I don't know if you heard it, Nancy, is that apparently this woman is a frequent abuser of some drugs and frequently nods out and does some other things...

GRACE: That's a whole other can of worms.


GERAGOS: Angela has got her own issues, I guess.

GRACE: Yeah, but one other thing we can surmise from this -- I don't know anything about any drug history on her account, I've heard rumors -- but I do know this: For her to say or the lawyer to say the neighbors made that up. Look at it cold-heartedly, who has more motive to concoct a story? Not the neighbors, they don't have any skin in the game, why would they make this whole thing up?

GERAGOS: Well, that's what I said last night. If it's true, it's a devastate impeachment of her statement.

KING: Kevin Peraino of "Newsweek," we're told that the FBI took hair samples of the father-in-law today. Why?

KEVIN PERAINO, NEWSWEEK: I don't know; possibly to compare with the hair -- the FBI took a tan, Scottish style golf cap from the father-in-law's trailer, we know that, yesterday. Maybe they took those samples to compare with the hairs in there to see if any of them didn't match the father-in-law.

GERAGOS: Exactly. That's what...

KING: Possibly be looking at him, Mark?

GERAGOS: No, I think it's more to do an exclusion. Because if you have somebody who you know would be -- would have a sample there, it's much easier than to have to try and dissect and do every single one. They can do a comparison. They can exclude him, and then they know whether or not they have got anything else that they need to pursue.

KING: Nancy, what did you think of the Smarts making a statement by joining all this with all abducted children, with all parents?

GRACE: Well, every time I have watched them, Larry, they are so genuine and they're obviously in so much pain. And right when I start looking at the statistics and spouting them off about the likelihood of her being alive and the likelihood of an acquaintance kidnapping her, they seem to have this spark of hope that is contagious, and it infuses me with the hope that she is still alive.

But I agree with you, Larry, if it is Ricci, that's bad for the girl, because that means that she's -- you know, if she's alive, tied up to a tree somewhere, and if not, then he's covering.

KING: Mark, the mechanic who worked on the white jeep said that he's less certain about the 1,000 mile figure, that it's somewhere maybe between the 500 and 1,000 miles. He says the jeep was covered with dirt when returned on June 8. He says before returning the jeep, Ricci parked the vehicle across the street, removed seat covers and post-hole digger from the jeep. He says Ricci was in an uncharacteristically bad mood.

GERAGOS: Well, you know, in some ways, the less mileage that's unaccounted for is more incriminating. The more mileage, if you heard a figure that it was 1,000 or if it was in excess of 1,000 miles, it's virtually impossible in that span of time for him to have driven that kind of mileage. But if it's less mileage, then it becomes a lot more possible and in some ways a lot more incriminating. And obviously, you don't want to hear post-hole diggers unless he has got some explanation for that, although he is a handyman. So then, I suppose that would be the argument there.


KING: Nancy, go ahead.

GRACE: If they were there, though, Mark, for an innocent reason, something not nefarious, post-hole diggers, why would he take them out of the car? You know...


GERAGOS: Well, I can guarantee you, Nancy, he's been -- during that 26 hours, the police have asked him about that. They probably asked him about the mileage upside down, right side up, and have gotten at least three different explanations.

GRACE: If they were there for an innocent reason, why not leave them there, why take them? Why the plastic bags? Why remove the seat covers? It all looks bad.

And another thing I want to ask you guys about. When the neighbor first confronted him digging at, what, 6:30, 7:30 a.m. in the morning, one of the first things he said was, "did you hear about the little Smart girl getting kidnapped, I worked for him, now the police are going to implicate me." That's like me saying, hey, Mr. Officer, did you hear about that bank robbery on 53rd? Well, I didn't do it. I mean, why would he even bring that up?

KING: Kevin Peraino, are they going anywhere else other than on this Ricci trail? PERAINO: Yeah, they say they are. They're obviously still looking very carefully at Ricci. They haven't called him a suspect yet, but they, you know, they're continuing to investigate him. But my sources tell me they're also looking at four or five other people very carefully, and we don't know their names at this point. But yeah, they haven't limited their investigation to Ricci, and they haven't ruled anyone out at this point.

KING: We'll take a break. When we come back, we're going to go to some phone calls for Nancy Grace, Mark Geragos and Kevin Peraino. And then, Don Imus will be our guest. As we go to break, here are statements made by the Neth Moul, the mechanic.


NETH MOUL, RICCI'S MECHANIC: When the car, the white jeep came in, there were all the windows were rolled down, you know, and then the car looked dirty.

QUESTION: How dirty?

MOUL: Well, like people go up in the mountain or do some, you know, do some yard (ph) work or something, it's that kind of dirty.



KING: Nancy Grace, if he isn't a suspect, what is he?

GRACE: Well, I think he is a suspect. And the reason they're not saying he's a suspect is because if they clear him and then they later find the true perp, the true perp, once at trial, can use the fact police blamed somebody else and called them a suspect as well. That could hurt at trial for the state later on down the road.

KING: I see. Could there be another reason, Mark?

GERAGOS: Yeah, I mean, more fundamentally, is they don't have to. They have got the ability to keep him on a parole hold. Because they do that, they don't have to charge him. Normally if you got arrested or if you had somebody, you'd either have to file a complaint against them, indict them, or cut them loose within 48 or 72 hours. You don't have to do it. In this case, they just violate his parole. They can keep him in there. They've got the luxury of looking at four or five other people. They don't have do anything with him except going back to him. He's got to cooperate with his parole officer as well and the APP. So they've got the best of all possible worlds in terms of an investigation.

KING: What did the police tell you as to why they're not saying suspect?

PERAINO: Well, I mean, the biggest thing so far is that they don't have enough hard evidence at this point to charge him. Now, I don't know how important the word "suspect" is. I mean, they're obviously looking careful at him. A lot of the pieces sort of fit. But you know, they're going to need something more than that to indict him, and he doesn't -- they don't have that right now.

KING: Let's take a call. Valiant, Oklahoma, hello.

CALLER: Hello. My question is...

KING: Hello?

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yeah, are you there? Go ahead.

CALLER: If Elizabeth Smart's hair or fingerprints happen to be found in Ricci's jeep, can he reasonably defend himself by saying that they're from when the Smarts owned the jeep?

GERAGOS: That's going to be -- would be the centerpiece of his defense. He's going to say that was their jeep, it's expected that the hair would be there, it would be expected that any DNA would be there. Unless you can do some kind of a time check or carbon dating or something like that to find a half life of it.

GRACE: Yeah, we saw it work -- and we saw it work in the Simpson case, when Simpson claimed the blood at Nicole's condo had been left there at some other time. The jury bought into it. So that's a number one, a primary attack on state's DNA evidence. That's an excellent thought, actually.

KING: Because DNA, Nancy, can't tell you the time the hair was there?

GRACE: That's right, like the hair, fiber, fingerprints, blood -- you can identify someone between one and five million, but you can't date it, that's the problem. That's why it's so important that the state prove he removed those seat covers, because that would show a guilty conscience.

GERAGOS: See, there are some tests that they can do to give you broad ranges of dates. But part of the problem you've got in this case is that he is somebody who has been inside of that house and she is somebody who has been inside of that car, so that tends to work against them in terms of closing all of the angles.

GRACE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) won't work in front of a jury. They're not going to buy some carbon 14 test that you're talking about, Mark. I understand where you're coming from, but you put this in front of the jury, with a little more evidence, they're not buying that.

GERAGOS: Well, no, I don't think that that's going to be anything that they're going to hang their hat on in this case. In this case, they're going to have to come up with something more. Kevin I think is absolutely right. One of the reasons that they haven't done it at this point, besides the fact that they've got the luxury of time because of the parole violation, is that they've got the time to try and figure out where she is and what's happened to her.

KING: Little Rock, Arkansas, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry, I'd like to ask all of you, if this was your child, would you be satisfied with what the Salt Lake Police Department is doing?

KING: Kevin, you're on the scene, would you be?

PERAINO: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think it's a little bit too early to tell. I would be -- I think a little bit disappointed, because we know that this -- that Ricci was questioned the 6th and he wasn't -- his parole wasn't revoked until nine days later. Now, I mean, police have said that that's simply because they had just so many leads they couldn't really dig into -- dig deep enough into his background, but I would find that a little bit disappointing, I think.

KING: Now, have they come up, Kevin, with anything guessing at motive here, like sex crime, burglary gone bad, kidnapping for ransom went awry? Any other scenario?

PERAINO: They don't know for sure, is what they're telling me, but they're looking at all of those things. They're looking at the possibility that it was a sex crime; they're also looking at the possibility that it was a burglary gone bad or an aborted ransom kind of thing.

KING: Is there a best bet, Nancy, in this kind of matter?

GRACE: Sure. Sure. If you're talking specifically about Ricci, when you don't know a horse, look at his track record. We don't see a sex history; we don't see a history of pedophilia in any way. What we do see is him not afraid to use a weapon in trying to get money, even breaking into jukebox machines and soft drink machines to get money. Burglary. So if he is the one, I would say it's more likely that it's a ransom case gone bad.

KING: How do you equate how well his attorney is dealing with this, based on just tonight, the short time we had with him?

GERAGOS: It's tough to say. I mean, he's saying all of the right things from his standpoint. I thought he was pretty candid in terms of probably expecting something to happen besides this being an investigation. I think he's got a problem, though, in terms of a conflict of interest. He's representing right now the wife and Ricci. At some point, real quick, he's going to have to conflict out of one of those people, at a certain point, because there is all kinds of issues as to what the wife's saying.

KING: Was it smart to release a statement?

GERAGOS: Well, yeah, I think he's got to say something. I mean, he's -- there's -- with this kind of immense public attention and pressure, he wants to say something. I think it's appropriate. The problem with it is the downside, obviously, is that people like Nancy and I are out here asking questions about what he didn't say in the statement.

KING: Nancy, you were going to say?

GRACE: Well, another thing, I think he's got a second career as an extraordinary tap dancer, because he told us just enough. But remember, he never mentioned Ricci's polygraph and don't you know if Ricci had passed that polygraph, he would have told us that immediately off the top of the show.

KING: You would have said that, right?

GERAGOS: You'd be trumpeting that from the hilltops if he passed the polygraphs, trust me.

KING: Kevin, do you think this will -- with July 4th coming and know how they celebrate it in Utah, as they do across the United States, they really put a show on there. This to die down?

PERAINO: You know, I think it may, and just because I think we've reached a phase where it's kind of a slow phase where they're continuing to gather evidence, and you know, my sources say he probably won't be charged in the next few days. I think there's a chance that it will slow down a little bit in the next week.

KING: We'll be calling on you again. I think the panel will be back on Monday. Nancy Grace, Mark Geragos and Kevin Peraino. Thank you all very much.

When we come back, the man who was supposed to be with us for an hour. Because of this Smart story, he's got half the show, and he's one of my favorite people. He's the I-Man, Don Imus, at his ranch in New Mexico. Live, next. Don't go away.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE, and our semi-annual visit with the I-man. We either are with him in New York or from his ranch in New Mexico. That's the ranch that started a couple of years back, a ranch for kids with cancer and other diseases and their siblings as well. He spends the entire summer there.

And on a personal note, we're going to go there in August and get our own personal look this ranch. This is, what, third year, Don, or second?

DON IMUS, HOST, "IMUS IN THE MORNING": This is the third full year, Larry. We actually founded the ranch in 1998. We even had kids out here before anything was built. They stayed in Santa Fe and then they came out during the day. But this is our third full year of operation.

KING: And you tell me I will be very surprised at what I see.

IMUS: Well, you know, "Architectural Digest" did a cover story on it back in December. And it was a fairly -- it was a good representation of what the ranch looks like. It's a terrific story from Nancy Collins (ph). And I know you know Nancy.

KING: I do.

IMUS: You probably tried to date Nancy, as you did a lot of other people, Larry. I don't, you know...

KING: And you earlier on, I-man.

IMUS: Just leave me out of this.

KING: OK. Leave you out of this. You're only the guest.

IMUS: But it's a fabulous -- it's a fabulous spread and we're very proud of it. You know, one...

KING: I look forward to seeing it. Yes, go ahead.

IMUS: That was a fascinating first half-hour you had. And I was saying to the guys here in the studio, I could have watched it for the entire hour.

But a couple things I thought were remarkable. One, I thought -- I guess maybe the Smart family has done this before, but I thought the aunt was enormously gracious in including these other children, because I was wondering -- you know, you're out here 50 miles from civilization. And we don't watch television and that sort of thing, and you sort of lose track of what's going on.

But I wondered why all of the attention on this case, what was so unique about this case when there are thousands of other children who are missing. And I don't know that I still know. I mean, why the focus on this case?

KING: We ask that almost every night and the general thinking is it's a beautiful 14-year-old girl. The family is well-off. It's a neighborhood of million-dollar-plus home, and she's taken right out of the house. So that is kind of unusual.

IMUS: Well, doesn't mean they aren't heartbroken, that's for sure.

KING: Yes, boy.

IMUS: You do think about the thousands of other kids. And my -- the way we work here at the ranch is I work the morning shift and my wife works the evening shift. And she happened to see your show with John Walsh, who is a remarkable, wonderful individual. I've never met him. I don't know him. But...

KING: You would love him.

IMUS: The guy's a saint.

KING: He is.

IMUS: And I guess he made the point about all of the other kids who may not be as well off any may not be so attractive who are also missing and they've got parents who are heartbroken.

KING: And the cowards who take them. Let's...

IMUS: Well, you know, the thing I was thinking as I watching, I listened to Nancy, and one thing I would recommend to suspects is get an attorney who doesn't also look like a suspect. Maybe that's unfair.

KING: Slightly.

IMUS: Yes. But I was thinking the same thing. You know, why didn't he say, why can't you answer the question about the 1,000 miles. And, two, if I took a polygraph and he passed it, you would be screaming you passed it. I mean, I'm not a lawyer. I'm a dope. But, I mean, I figured that out. Maybe I'll get Nancy -- what's her name, Nancy whatever it is, get her job.

KING: Grace. Yes, get her -- OK. Let's touch some other bases.

The president is having a colonoscopy tomorrow. I've had mine. Have you had yours?

IMUS: Yes.

KING: OK. Should we worry as a public?

IMUS: No, not at all. No. When I had mine, they played Randy Travis music for me and they had candles and it was great. So. Speaking of Randy Travis, he's doing a concert here at the ranch on Sunday for the kids.

KING: No kidding? That's great. Tell me about...


KING: Before I ask you about these other areas, I know you're hot on this, and we just got the CD, on this Flatlanders album called "Now Again." What's so special about them?

IMUS: This is the best album -- I used to be a disc jockey. This is the best album I've heard in 25 years. It's the best album that I've heard since "Graceland," since Paul Simon's "Graceland." It features three legends in Texas, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Elee (ph) and Butch Hancock (ph).

And it would be like if you got Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and -- I don't know, pick one, together to do an album. None of the three are -- can sing as well as my friend, Delbert McClinton. But you put them together and it is a great, great album. The problem with it is is it's maybe a little too country for some modern country stations, but it is -- if you listen to it, there are three great songs on it.

And by the way, I don't know these guys. I never met them. I know who they are obviously. I had them on the show, but they were in New York and I was here in New Mexico. And I'm almost ready to fly around the country like the old days, Larry, and give disc jockeys money to play this record.

But here's what I will do.

KING: Yes.

IMUS: And I'm serious. I'm very serious about this. The first country station in any top 10 market, you know, L.A., Cleveland, Chicago, New York, the first country station that reports to Radio and Records or "Billboard" that they have any single the from the Flatlanders album on their top 10, I'll donate $10,000 to that radio station's favorite charity or the music director's charity or whatever they want to do. But it has to be -- they have to legitimately get one of the single into the top 10 and they have to report it to either Radio and Records or "Billboard" magazine.

KING: There you have it on record. And by the way, that's the kind of guy the I-man is. You know, he gives away the crusty exterior, and he's kind of rough and he can be mean. That's kind of an act. The I-man has a lot of heart. And if he likes something, he likes you. It's nice to be liked by the I-man.

IMUS: Not to belabor this, but I would recommend "Waving My Heart Goodbye" or "My Wildest Dreams" or "Going Away," three great cuts. But I don't know if you're into country music or not, Larry.

KING: I like it. I like it because they tell stories and I like the beat, I like the music and my wife sings a lot of country. I like it.

IMUS: Well, I say you have that horrible woman from Canada on or what is her name?

KING: Celine Dion?

IMUS: That could be her, yes. She's not horrible. I didn't mean it. I'm sorry. But you know what I'm saying. Or Tony Bennett or somebody, we're sick of those people, Larry. We want the Flatlanders.

KING: OK. The Pledge of Allegiance, unconstitutional because of "under God," ruled by a California court. What do you think?

IMUS: Well, you know, I know the suit was brought by a guy in Sacramento, right, who is a lawyer and a doctor?

KING: Yes.

IMUS: That's -- well, first of all, that's somebody who has got too much time on their hands. I mean, decide to be one or the other or sue yourself for malpractice.

But, one of the things -- when I first started going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings 15 years ago, maybe a little longer now, one of the things that bothered some people in AA was the use of the word God. So they said -- what they told us in AA, they said, you know, you need to think of God as a higher power. Now God can be -- it can be a religious figure if you want it to be. It can be Suge Knight. It could be Randy Travis. I mean, it could be -- or God could be a tree. So...

KING: All right. Doesn't upset you to have...

IMUS: I don't have a big problem with it.

KING: We'll take a break and be back -- we'll be back with more with the I-man, the host of the top-rated "Imus in the Morning" on the FAN radio in New York. By the way, that's the highest number one revenue radio station in America, and it's also simulcast on MSNBC, our friendly competitor.

We'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: Skirting the news with the I-man. We'll take some calls in a moment. What do you make of the Martha Stewart mess, if we could think of any other thing to call it?

IMUS: I'll tell you, there are a few things that really make me feel good, but that's one of them.

I mean I just think it's -- it just couldn't happen to a better person. You know, by the way, Larry, the Flatlanders are in Houston, Texas tonight at the big Verizon shindig. So after the show, everybody there in Houston, we'll get out and see them.

Here is the thing I find remarkable about Martha Stewart is the woman's got to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars...

KING: Absolutely.

IMUS: And this is -- and this a chump deal.

KING: $280,000.

IMUS: Come on, here ! I've seen -- some of the editorial cartoons and stuff that I've seen, the "Newsweek" and -- by the way, does "Newsweek" the reporter -- I mean, the guy is cute, but does he have a clue what's going on in that case?

KING: You're talking about Kevin Peraino?

IMUS: Whatever. Nice looking guy, but come on!

KING: The "New York Times," though, said, on one of the op-ed pieces, said Martha is getting rougher treatment because she's a woman and it stirs class envy. Do you have a comment?

IMUS: And that's bad because? And that's bad because? I don't understand what problem is. I mean...

KING: Class envy is OK to you?

IMUS: Well, I think it's fine.

KING: You live on it.

IMUS: One of the founding -- part of the principles of our country.

KING: What do you make of what's going on...


What about these corporations in America? The Enron thing and now the WorldCom, and what's going on?

IMUS: Well, you see what we're learning now is that this has been going on forever. And it started -- well, it started back in Minnesota back in the Michael Milken junk bond deal, not to pick on him, he's a nice guy.

And then, unfortunately -- I've got great friends at Merrill Lynch, and they're my broker, and they continue to be my broker, and I wouldn't change for the world. But you can't hype stocks that you know are worthless, and then they're having a big laugh on you and me, because we're sitting out here, we're dopes, we don't know what's going on.

Then I think these companies thought they're cooking their books and thought the same sort of thing and they get -- and these executives, the key to figuring out what's going on in these big corporations -- I used to wonder why would a big time executive take a million dollar salary.

It's a lot of money but it's not -- but they got all of those stock options. The stock options are only worth money if they increase the value of the stock. So, whatever they have to do to increase the value of the stock, in the case of...

KING: If it takes lying...

IMUS: If it takes cooking the books, and that's why, so it was a built-in disaster.

At some point SEC or somebody is going to have to get involved. I mean, I guess you have some Constitutional issues there, but somehow that's going to have to be addressed. The compensation paid these executives versus the stock options, because they're only interested in the performance of the company, and some of them are dishonest, as we're finding.

KING: Mankato, Kansas. We take a call for the I-man. Hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry and Don. I just want to ask your input, do you believe the American criminal justice system is too lenient, to use your example of Enron and WorldCom.

They're getting away with murder, they're breaking laws, obstruction of justice, and I just think that promotes further dishonesty, if they think they can get away with something, and the justice system will let them off, and they just hope and pray they won't get caught.

What's your feeling on that?

KING: You think they can beat the system, Don?

IMUS: One of my heroes, of course, is the great former mayor of New York City, Rudy Guiliani, and one of the things he did that was equally pleasing as the Martha Stewart mess was when he went down to Wall Street and put handcuffs on all those guys in their Brookes Brothers suits and let them out there-- unfortunately it turned out some of them were innocent. These guys ought to be doing hard time. I mean, they shouldn't be...

KING: One other thing I want to ask you before we get the break. Cabinet level homeland security -- agree with the idea?

IMUS: I think it's OK but I think it's got to include -- under that umbrella its' got to be the FBI or CIA or what's the point?

KING: They're not putting it under that.

IMUS: Well, then it's stupid.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more of the I-man. He's had his rants. The rants for kids with cancer -- what a noble thing he does in New Mexico every summer. And he's there every summer for the full summer, and of course he's the host of "Imus in the Morning" on the radio and television as well.

We'll be right back.

KING: The name of the Flatlanders album is "Now Again." They're entertaining tonight in Houston and -- attention radio stations in the top 10 markets, if you get them, one of the singles from that album on the top 10, Imus gives you $10,000 for the station's favorite charity.

Let's take a call. Caypay, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: How are you, Don Imus, how are you doing today? Love your radio show. Can you tell me what happened to Don and Mike in New York City? If they're not on live anymore?

KING: Are they back on? They were taken off for a while. Are they on, or not on the air in New York, Don?

IMUS: Don and Mike?

KING: Yeah.

IMUS: You know, I don't know whether they're on or not. I know Opie and Anthony are obviously still on.

KING: Don and Mike -- they're on in Washington, right, Don and Mike? I think they're on in Washington.

IMUS: I think that's where they originate from, yeah.

KING: Yeah. Las Vegas, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry.


CALLER: I'm a huge fan of Don Imus.

KING: So am I.

CALLER: And I was wondering if he's retiring any time soon?

KING: Are you thinking of retiring?

IMUS: Do I think I will?

KING: Yeah.

IMUS: Probably. I mean, I don't want to be, you know, 85 -- I don't want to be Mike Wallace, still, you know, breaking into people's house with your camera crew, you know, so. Not that I do that. I think if we get the Flatlanders in the top 10, I might pack it in, so.

KING: But don't you have a new contract through what?

IMUS: Four more years, yeah, four and a half more years. Well, I'll honor that, of course.

KING: How about Brokaw retiring, your friend? What do you make of Tom leaving?

IMUS: Well, he's not going to go anywhere, he's just going to give up the anchor duties after this next election in '04, and then he's going to hang around and do dopey specials, so he is not going to go anywhere. I love him, don't you?

KING: Yeah, I love him.

IMUS: Brilliant guy.

KING: Glendor, California, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: Hi. Don Imus, how are you?

IMUS: Hi, ma'am. Good. CALLER: Hi. I wondered how you could shoot down all the senators and the congressmen and all these people, and then all of a sudden they're on your show and they're your best friends and you love them so much, as much as I love you and your show?

KING: All right, how do you explain, Don, that you seem to take on these people and then they happily come on?

IMUS: You know, I don't know. That's a pretty good question, lady. I don't know. I mean, I don't know why they do. I have no idea. I mean, I don't think we're malicious. I think we're fairly fair with people, and I think people understand when they're dirtbags. And I think they just -- I think they just want -- you know, they've got to get re-elected and they want to -- you know, I don't know. I really don't know. I mean, that's a good question.

KING: What do you make of the ongoing crisis in the church, the Catholic Church?

IMUS: Well, I think Tim Russert -- yeah, Tim Russert had a guy, Bishop Wilson Pickett (ph) -- not Wilson Pickett -- he's a singer. Wilton Gregory, whatever his name is. They had the big -- they had the big bishops meeting in Dallas, and they said, well, we're going to throw all the priests out that had their hands on the kids even once, because the public demanded that.

The thing you have to remember, if you're a Catholic or even if you're not, is they wouldn't have done anything about any of this, nobody would have said anything if it weren't for the "Boston Globe" screaming about it, and that's essentially where it started out. Could have started someplace else. I mean, we actually had other problems here in Santa Fe, 10, 12 years ago, but if not for the "Boston Globe" screaming about it, nobody would have ever said anything about it and it would have continued.

The point I want to make is, the bishops all decided they're going to adopt a zero tolerance policy with priests only because the public made them. But the issue that they avoided to address was the fact that about two-thirds of the bishops are responsible for knowingly shifting these pedophiles and these other people to these various parishes, knowing that they were abusing children, and putting them in a position to abuse children again.

What they all ought to do -- all of the bishops, any bishop that had anything to do with any of that, that shifted any priest that ever touched a kid, also ought to resign. I mean, it's a joke.

KING: Do you have any strong opinions on anything, I-Man?

IMUS: No, I know, but I mean, you keep -- you keep your hands off the kids and stop shifting these jerks around, or get out. I mean, they're going to ruin the Catholic Church.

You know, there are a lot of great priests and there are a lot of wonderful -- Father Tom Hartman (ph) is one of my dear friends, is a great priest. And the priest that married my nephew and his wife is a great priest. But I mean, you know, and there are millions of Catholics who are heartbroken over all of this, over -- you know, and they say, well, it's only a small percentage. But it's a priest, you keep your hands off the kids. What are you, nuts?

KING: We got about a minute left. What do you make of Matt Lauer's new hairdo?

IMUS: Who is Matt Lauer?


KING: Jesse Ventura.

IMUS: No, who is Matt Lauer? You mean the guy on "The Today show?"

KING: He's the co-host of the "Today Show." Yeah. He's got like a...

IMUS: Oh, who the hell...

KING: People are talking about it.

IMUS: Larry, nobody cares. Nobody cares. Nobody.

KING: OK. Nobody.

IMUS: Nobody.

KING: Nobody! And Jesse Ventura's leaving the political scene. Are you going to miss him?

IMUS: Good, get out. He's a fat meathead. God.

KING: Thanks a lot, I-Man, always great seeing you. I-Man is on vacation, by the way, from his radio show. He returns Monday, July 8. We'll see you out at the ranch in August. I can't wait to see it. The ranch is for kids with cancer. And don't forget, the Flatlanders album -- you got me hooked on this -- "Now Again." And again, radio stations get them in the top 10, you get 10,000 for your charity.

Don Imus, the host of "Imus in the Morning." Always great seeing him. We thank him very much for joining us.

When we come back, we'll be telling you about what's coming up tomorrow and Sunday, two editions of "LARRY KING WEEKEND" tat are very, very different but you'll find very, very interesting, and then what happens when we return on Monday night as well. So, stay right there and we'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: As you no doubt know, on the weekends we're on tape with programs called "LARRY KING WEEKEND." Two very interesting programs. Tomorrow night, we'll repeat out interview with Leslie Van Houten, who for the 14th time has been denied parole. Leslie Van Houten on Saturday night.

And then Sunday night is kind of 180 degree move to Regis Philbin. And when we're back live Monday night, more on the Smart case with our panel and others involved in that tragic matter in Salt Lake.

We now turn it over to the man who's done a super job. Anderson Cooper is in New York, the host of "NEWSNIGHT." He's sitting in for Aaron Brown; will be doing it right through next Tuesday. Mr. Cooper, have a great weekend.


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