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Interviews With Yanni, Walter Isaacson, Arianna Huffington, George Crile, Michael Buble

Aired July 13, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, mega popular musician, Yanni. He's made millions of women swoon and now he is revealing the reasons he stopped playing music for five long years
Plus, media giant, Walter Isaacson has written a book on Ben Franklin. Hear what he is uncovered about an American icon.

Also, up tonight, syndicated columnist, Arianna Huffington coming down hard on the corporate world, and praising a certain Hollywood golden girl is more than just a fashion play.

Also, tonight, "60 MINUTES" producer, George Crile. He has got a fascinating story of how one American started a chain reaction that brought down the Soviet Union.

And then, Michael Buble, just 25 years old and already being compared to a music voices of the legendary variety. Hear him for yourself next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It is a great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING WEEKEND composer, performer, Yanni, the major force in contemporary instrumental music recently finished up the first leg of a world tour. His first in five years. His memoir published earlier this year, "Yanni in Words" became a "New York Times" best seller. His new album also released earlier this year, "Ethnicity".

Why did you stop playing?

YANNI, MUSICIAN/AUTHOR: Well because it was the right thing to have done, in retrospect. I actually burned out. It's that plain and simple.

KING: It happened one night? Were you playing and saying, I don't need this anymore? What happened?

YANNI: It took a while. But I had so many commitments for the touring part of my career, and I couldn't stop. It was like, I did 60 more shows after I had crossed the line.

KING: Wow.

YANNI: It took me down pretty ...


KING: Well, after you had decided to stop, you had 60 more commitments.

YANNI: Or so. Yes. It seemed forever.

KING: Were they more difficult?

YANNI: Well, you know, it helps when you get on stage, the audience kind of helps you make it through. But then when you get back to the hotel and you are alone, things hurt. And you know, I have been going nonstop for 10-15 years.

In that particular stretch of time, I did go to China, and India. I did the Taj Mahal, did the Forbidden City, and we did 120 shows. That is a lot of shows.

KING: The world knows Yanni, right?

YANNI: Yes. It is a very nice thing.

KING: But you are as popular out of this country as in, right?

YANNI: Well, yes. I think people know who I am around the world.

KING: What did you do for the five years?

YANNI: I run away. I just -- I took care of me. I just decided to run away. I just traveled all over the world. First I went home. I went to Greece with my mother and father, and simplified my life. I just walked away from my career, treat it like it was an addiction. I stayed away from music and I never played the piano for a whole year, which would be unimaginable to me.

KING: And didn't miss it?

YANNI: There was a few times where I missed it, but I thought it was very important that I -- I wanted to know that I could enjoy life without my career, without my music, without hiding. A lot of us hide behind our careers and ...

KING: Did you think you had retired for good?

YANNI: I allowed myself to think that, and suddenly when I walked in the mountains with my father and we talked about all this stuff, I had to know deep in my heart that there was a very strong possibility I wouldn't come back. And I think that was the best thing to have done, because that really cleaned me out.

KING: We know the long relationship with Linda Evans, she even participated in the book, right?


KING: And the friendship. What did she thing during this period?

YANNI: Well, she tried to help ... KING: She wanted you to come back?

YANNI: Well, of course. Yes. But, of course, she also wanted me to do what I want to do.

KING: So she supported you?

YANNI: Absolutely. They sensed -- everybody sensed I was in real trouble. Everybody was trying to be helpful.

KING: What do you think caused it?

YANNI: Just overwork. I think it just the stress -- the stresses and ...

KING: Of success?

YANNI: All of that. All of that. And -- when you appear on stage as often as I have in my life, you give so much of yourself, and it seems like at the beginning, when you are younger, it is no big deal. It seems like an ending. You just keep doing it. Who cares. But it takes its toll.

And my father used to say to me, you are being brainwashed right now. You are forgetting to live. You don't live anymore. You just work. And I could sense it. I knew that I was overdoing it, but sometimes the wave is so big, and you have been working all your life to get it to become a wave, so when it takes off, you just have to ride it.

KING: Did you work on the book during this period?

YANNI: The book was much later.

KING: Much later.

YANNI: Yes. Much later. It took three or four years afterwards. It was a very cathartic thing to have done, to go back and look at what really happened to me. Because it gave me an opportunity to have retrospection. To look back at what I had been through.

KING: How do you explain how Yanni became Yanni?

YANNI: I think it is a phenomenon.

KING: It's certainly against every trend. I mean, Yanni has not played on pop music radio stations. How do you explain it?

YANNI: It is very difficult. I can't look back at my career and say, you know, because we did this we ...


KING: What was your big break?

YANNI: A lot of different kinds of things.

KING: There was no one big recording contract ...

YANNI: No. There wasn't. There wasn't. It was consistent and persistent going out touring a lot, seven key television appearances. I think the huge break was when I did the Acropolis and it was televised. A lot of people around the world saw it, enjoyed it, and that -- but it was the fact that I was persistent and I knew that people would enjoy what I had. That I could connect with them. That it would have an effect on them. I would get through.

KING: It is emotional and temporal, right?

YANNI: Yes. It is both. And it is one thing for me to think that. It is another thing to see it happen. You know, sometimes artists, we think we can touch people, but maybe we can't. So it is nice to see that reality follows you thoughts.

KING: Did you handle it well? Success?

YANNI: I thought I did. I thought I did.

KING: We will take a break and come back with more Yanni. The book was out earlier this year. "New York Times" best seller, "Yanni in Words". The album released earlier as well, it is still out, of course. "Ethnicity." We will ask about that and other things. Don't go away.


KING: We are back with Yanni. In your book, "Yanni in Words", you are very honest, as you say, cathartic, and you describe yourself as almost obsessive, right?


KING: Driven.

YANNI: Yes. I also thought I wanted the book to be honest. I wanted to be as honest as possible, and I fought for that. And I wanted to be simple. I wanted to just tell people what it was and what the battles were. What I fought for, what I am afraid of, what the difficulties were. All of that. But when it comes down to music, I have no balance. I am 100 percent. It is like full throttle. Five hundred miles an hour.

KING: I guess you were a world class swimmer, right?

YANNI: When I was a kid, yes.

KING: You have perfect pitch, also true?


KING: That can drive people nuts to have perfect pitch. Right? Because if you hear an off note, you go nuts. YANNI: That's right. That's right. Especially when I hear violin players.

KING: What brought you back? How come you decided to come back and tour again?

YANNI: It -- actually the fans brought me back. I think one of the turning points in my -- it was depression I was going through. It was a difficult time. It was reading fan letters. And it reminded me of the affect that I have had on people, which I had forgotten. I was very lost.

When I quit in 1998, I had walked away from my career, I had broken up with Linda. I was the most lost I have been ever in my life. And at some point, my sister collected a bunch of fan letters and sent them to me. And I remember having them, and I wasn't going to read them, and eventually I sat down and started reading and I was completely -- I started crying and I just -- all of sudden, I realized that I had meaning to people.

KING: And then when you decided to come back, what, did you pick up the phone and say, tour me again? And did you automatically assume they could come flocking back?

YANNI: No, I didn't. I am very humble when it comes down to that. We had no idea, and thank god, this last tour was very successful, and it was a very difficult tour to do. It was ...

KING: Because ...?

YANNI: Because the country was in a recession and the country was at war. It was a very dark period, scary, uncertain. We took a chance again. And the people came out.

KING: Were you performing on 9/11? Scheduled to perform 9/11?

YANNI: No. No. That was way before I came back.

KING: What was it like the first night you came -- what city were you in?

YANNI: We started in Las Vegas.

KING: Good place to start.


KING: People are anxious to get out there and play with money, and you are doing the music.

YANNI: The good news is when you open up in Vegas, you have a lot of friends, because they all come over to see your opening night.

KING: Yes. What was opening night like after being away five years? YANNI: Shaky. My hands were shaking. I was very nervous. It was like as if I had never played before in my life. I had a lot of great musicians on that stage now days. We have discovered quite a lot of new people.

KING: How many people in your group?

YANNI: There are about -- on a good day, 27, 30.

KING: But they have all virtuoso?

YANNI: Yes. They all were virtuoso players now from all over the world. So you have this color.

KING: How would you describe your music. You don't like new- age. You don't like that term, right? What do -- what would describe it?

YANNI: You know, when I write it, I think of music. I just would use any instrument known to man in any combination as long as it describes an emotion. As long as it does a good job at describing what it is that I am trying to describe.

KING: What do you mean by Ethnicisity (sic), as the title?

YANNI: Actually it is Ethnicity.

KING: Ethnicity.

YANNI: Yes. It is a word that is derived from the Greek.

KING: Isn't everything?

YANNI: Almost everything. A lot of it, I should say. And it has to do with the color. The ethnic color. Because I use a lot of different instruments from all over the world and I thought it was very appropriate for this particular album. There is a lot of rhythm and modes and types of music that come from all over the world. Lot of interesting ...

KING: Are you back full scale now?


KING: Will you be touring every year? Will you be recording -- in other words, Yanni is Yanni again.

YANNI: Yes. I am back. And I love it. It was great. This last tour was great.

KING: Do you think that down period, in a sense, helped?

YANNI: Yes. The down period was very important. It helped me put everything into perspective. I think I found a little more balance in my life now. Even though when it comes down to going into music, I am very unbalanced. I still can't just do a little bit of -- kind of do music. I have to do it 100 percent or nothing. But now I take the time out. I take time out. Built in breaks. So I watch over me a little more.

KING: Is there romance back in your life?

YANNI: A little bit, yes.

KING: It is none of my business, but I just ...

YANNI: A little bit. You know, Linda and I had been publicized so much that now days I can forget -- as much as I can, that area of my life.

KING: You still get the same kick when you are playing as you always did?

YANNI: Absolutely. Absolutely. In fact, I think more so now that I thought maybe I had lost it forever. Now I think I appreciate it a little more, and as I get older, to see all the fans come out again and support me ...

KING: You think you are better?

YANNI: Hopefully. A little more mature, yes.

KING: Yes. You would think that you would advance.

YANNI: Hopefully.

KING: You play just as well?

YANNI: Better.

KING: It is always good seeing you, Yanni.

YANNI: Very nice to see you, Larry. Thank you.

KING: Yanni, composer, performer. What a guy, and he is, as they say, he's back.

We will be back with more of LARRY KING WEEKEND right after this. Or, LARRY KING LIVE, on the weekend. Don't go away.


KING: An extraordinary book has just been published. Ben Franklin -- "Benjamin Franklin, an American Life". The author is a good friend, Walter Isaacson, chairman of the Aspen Institute, former chairman of CNN. The former managing editor of "TIME" magazine. Why Ben Franklin?

WALTER ISAACSON, FORMER CNN CHAIRMAN: Well, Ben Franklin is a person, Larry, who most reminds me of you. He's got all sorts of interests, all sorts of tastes. I was interested in him first as a diplomat. Here is a guy who is able to do balance of power diplomacy when he was over there in France during our revolution. But also be a great idealist, and understand America's ideals. But then I looked into him, and what a great journalist he was, how he created a media empire, and eventually I became interested in his science and everything else. So he had this great diversity of interests, and he was the coolest of all the founders.

KING: Well, you wrote a great book on Henry Kissinger. That was current events. Are you now a historian?

ISAACSON: Well, one thing about Henry Kissinger it got me interested in the roots of why we, as a nation, do things as we do on the international stage, and to what extent our ideals -- the things we believe in -- are important to our foreign policy. And if you want to understand that, you have to go back to the founders, but you specifically have to go back to Ben Franklin. Also, it is good every now and then to write about somebody who has been dead for 200 years, because they don't get mad at you when the book comes out.

KING: Did he ever run for office?

ISAACSON: Well, yes. He was president of the state of Pennsylvanian, now. But by the time the constitutional convention was over, he was 84 years old. So he was a little bit too old to run for president. He could have -- he could have been the contender to be the first president if he had been 10 years younger. But he was -- you know, he held a few offices in Pennsylvania.

KING: Was he very famous in his time?

ISAACSON: He was the most famous American around the world in his time. Just by inventing the lightning rod and coming up with the idea that lightning was electricity and you could tame it with a rod, it made him the most famous person in the world at the time. His experiments were replicated all over France and England.

He was inducted into the royal academies all over Europe. His "Poor Richard's Almanac" and "His Way to Wealth", which was one of his books were the best selling books in Europe and America in the time. So he was, by far, the -- he was a very good publicist too. He was good at promoting himself and he was, by far, the most famous person back then.

KING: He founded the "Saturday Evening Post," did he not?

ISAACSON: Not exactly ...

KING: No? I thought he did.

ISAACSON: ... the "Saturday Evening -- Well, the "Saturday Evening Post" likes to think he did too. He did found a magazine, one of the first magazines in America. It was called -- it was called "The General Magazine". But it just -- it wasn't exactly the same as the "Saturday Evening Post".

KING: So it is not -- it wasn't Oprah.


KING: It wasn't Oprah?

ISAACSON: No, no. But, he was about as famous as Oprah was back then.

KING: Now there has been legendary stories down through these -- we have all heard them about him and the ladies. True?

ISAACSON: Well, he loved the ladies. And when he was in Paris, he had two particular girlfriends, Madam Brion (ph) and Madam Helvisius (ph). And he even played chess in the bathtub with one of them, and he sure enjoyed himself. But if you read his writings, he complains that he is not getting enough sex or romance. So I think it was more since he is in his late 70s at this point. I think it is more of an affair of the mind and of the heart than of the body.

KING: How many children did he have?

ISAACSON: He had one illegitimate son who stayed loyal to the king during the revolution and split with Benjamin Franklin.

KING: Really.

ISAACSON: He had a -- yes. He had another son who died at age four, and he had a daughter who was always very loyal to him. The story of his illegitimate son is an unbelievable soap opera. If you ever read the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, starts off, Dear Son, and it talks about how poor they were and how he arrived in Philadelphia as a run a way with few coins in his pocket.

And that book was mainly written to try to keep his son from becoming too aristocratic, too loyal to the king, putting on airs, and becoming too fancy. But it failed. His son becomes a royalist, and Benjamin Franklin then takes the grandson, a kid named Temple. A beautiful young boy who's Williams' son. And the grandfather and grandson form this bond. They go off to France together, leaving William behind. So it was a -- it is great movie or a great soap opera.

KING: You worked on this for 10 years? Is that true?

ISAACSON: Yes. I worked on it for a little bit more than 10 years. When I was writing the Kissinger book, I started getting really interested in it.

KING: I can't wait to get at it. Thanks, Walter.

ISAACSON: Thank you, Larry, for having me back. It is always good to see you again. I will see you in Washington.

KING: You sure will. Walter Isaacson, chairman of the Aspen Institute, we miss him -- former chairman of CNN, former managing editor of "TIME", and author of the new book, it is getting rave reviews, by the way -- "Benjamin Franklin, an American Life". We will be back with more right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, a good friend and a terrific columnist and a hell of an author. Other than that, we don't think much of her. "Pigs at the Trough" is the book. The "New York Times" best seller. It received such praise from such a diverse group as Bill Moyer, Senator John McCain, Senator John Kerry, Arthur Schlessinger, Jr., Aaron Sorkin, Bill Marr, and Larry David. Who is left? Calvin Coolidge to like it?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, AUTHOR OF "PIGS AT THE TROUGH": Larry David is my favorite, though. Because I wanted a book that would entertain people, and Larry David kind of captured it. He said it is -- I haven't been as entertained and disgusted at the same time since my last fling with alter eroticists.

KING: When did you change? You used to be a kind of what we would call staunch Republican, as I remember early Arianna.

HUFFINGTON: I had my Republican interregnum and during the Gingrich revolution, and then really two things happened. One, I started getting to know Newt Gingrich and the Republicans, and I didn't like what I saw. I saw a real difference between what was being said. I remember Gingrich's first speech when he became speaker saying -- and tackling poverty is more important than balancing the budget. And clearly, he didn't admit it. And also, I started doing my column, now eight years ago, and every week, twice a week, I had to sort of delve into the issues of the day, and I saw first hand that the issues that concerned me, poverty and equality were not being addressed.

KING: So you took a new approach to things as you saw ...


HUFFINGTON: Yes. They were family issues. And I am independent. I didn't become a Democrat. I am a registered independent.

KING: In "Pigs at the Trough", how did you come up with that title?

HUFFINGTON: Actually, my agent did.

KING: Frank admission.

HUFFINGTON: But it is a great title, because they are pigs at the trough. And what is fascinating, is that right now, you see even business magazines like "Fortune" having a similar cover about senior compensation being out of control. So this is not a left-right thing. That is what I am stressing in the book.

KING: You also, in the book, take no prisoners. Democrats and Republicans ...


KING: You label a lot of these guys who take a lot of money. You come on pretty strong. What is -- as you see it, is -- what suddenly has pushed greed to the forefront?

HUFFINGTON: Well, I think that's the key question because greed has always been part of human nature, and it will always exist. What is new is the unprecedented nexus of corruption between Washington, Wall Street, and corporate America. Why it's unprecedented is that you can now buy public policy like never before.

KING: In any administration?

HUFFINGTON: In any administration, but especially this one right now because -- I mean, as we see now with this all (UNINTELLIGIBLE) fund-raising that George Bush and Dick Cheney and everybody's participating in, these people who are giving all this money are expecting something back, and they're getting it. They're buying huge tax cuts, subsidies, corporate welfare, you know, have abolished welfare for the poor, but we had almost $100 billion in the last budget in corporate welfare.

KING: One thing your book is saying is it isn't one man, one vote, is it?

HUFFINGTON: Exactly. It isn't one man, one vote. But, at the same time, the book is optimistic, first of all, because I'm an optimistic person and, also, because I believe that when people speak out, when we organize, we are more powerful than any lobby, than any special interest.

And I can give you evidence. I have a section in the book that I call "In Praise of Making Stinks," and I talk about how, you know, Henry Kissinger is no longer the chairman of the 9/11 commission, not because Tom Daschle or anybody in the establishment said anything against it, but because the people spoke out.

Trent Lott is no longer the majority leader. He's still there, but he's not the majority leader. And Harvey Pitt is no longer the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. So, again and again, the people have the power to change things.

KING: What -- if greed is not going to go away and people are always going to think you can buy something, how are you going to affect change when you're up against the First Amendment? I can give what I want.

HUFFINGTON: Right. I think you affect change by pointing out the paybacks and by making the connection between these non-victimless crimes -- they're not victimless crimes, what happened, the corporate scandals -- and people's daily lives, the fact that millions of people have lost their jobs.

They've lot their pensions, they've lost their 401(k)s, they've lost their dreams, their ability to send their kids to college. We need to make all these connections again and again so that people don't put up with what's happening.

Basically, nobody likes getting screwed, and that's what's happening right now. You know, people in America are living -- all of us are living in an almost Lilliputian society when it comes to the rules, laws, and regulations that apply to the elite as opposed to the rest of us.

KING: But the people you want to change it, the legislatures -- legislators, are the ones who have benefited from it. So how are you going to get someone to say, OK, I don't want that $400,000 that they want to give me.

HUFFINGTON: Well, you're not going to get them to say that, but you will get them to -- you're going to get them to pass, say, the Sarbanes-Oxley bill that passed, and it passed not because anybody in the Republican Party wanted it. It passed because the public was so outraged after Enron and WorldCom that even Phil Gramm who had introduced 36 amendments to kill it had to vote for it.

So, in the end, politicians understand only thing, and that's punishment. If they think they're going to be punished by the people, then they do the right thing. But, unfortunately, we are at a time of Lilliputian public figures, and the only way to get them to do the right thing is through public pressure.

KING: How did you come up with that line?


KING: Lilliputian. "Gulliver's Travels" again?

HUFFINGTON: Well, they are. I mean that's...

KING: Well, is one of your hopes for, what, public financing of campaigns?

HUFFINGTON: Public financing of campaigns, and a lot of pressure from the public, and it's happening, Larry. You know, I -- I believe there is a real critical mass forming. I mean there's a group called

KING: Yes. What do you make of them?

HUFFINGTON: Amazing. Absolutely amazing. One-point-six-million members on the Internet. Huge fund-raising potential. The ability to really influence what's happening, to run ads on television and in newspapers, to basically use the system to change the system, which is also what "Legally Blonde 2" is doing.

You know, here you have popular culture...

KING: Yes, you wrote a -- you wrote a great column last week on "Legally Blonde 2" and watching it with your daughters, and, in a sense, that said...

HUFFINGTON: Exactly. Here is one woman, a blonde lawyer who takes on Washington, and succeeds, and everybody in Washington is saying to her the people don't care, you can't make a difference, and she says watch me, and she makes a difference.

And it was wonderful watching it sitting between my two daughters -- one is 12, the other is 14, as you know -- and seeing the incredible impact it had on them and the fact that after the movie, they were discussing what they wanted to change and how they could do it. That's really what we need to see more of.

KING: So that adds to your optimism.

HUFFINGTON: Yes, exactly.

KING: Now that's Hollywood doing it, not Washington, right?

HUFFINGTON: Well, anywhere. I'll take it from wherever it comes.

KING: The book is "Pigs at the Trough."

We'll be right back with more of Arianna Huffington.

About this book, Aaron Sorkin said it "is a great read, hilarious and horrifying." It is. "Arianna Huffington is a world-class wit who makes a Fortune 500 trip to the woodshed seem like flirting."

We'll be right back.


KING: We're back with Arianna Huffington. We're going to cover some other bases. The book is "Pigs at the Trough."

What are you writing next?

HUFFINGTON: I'm doing a book on fanatics and fools.


KING: We're all in that.

HUFFINGTON: Well, the fanatics are the people leading the Republican Party who basically are not allowing evidence to get in the way of what they want to do, whether it's evidence in terms of the war in Iraq or whether it's evidence in terms of the impact of tax cuts on job creation.

KING: And who are the fools?

HUFFINGTON: And the fools are the congenitally-spineless Democratic leaders who are allowing...

KING: I'll tell you you take no prisoners, right?

HUFFINGTON: Yes. Well, I believe that, you know, if it were not for the fools allowing the fanatics to get away with what they are doing, they wouldn't be succeeding.

KING: What happened to the Democrats?

HUFFINGTON: Well, the -- I think...

KING: You were never a Democrat, so you can't speak...

HUFFINGTON: No, I was never a Democrat.

KING: ... from first person...

HUFFINGTON: I think what happened is very clear when you watch Tom Daschle on television. They're afraid. You can almost smell the fear that they are going to say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing and not get reelected.

I mean you had Tom Daschle being interviewed by Tim Russert, and Russert asked him why didn't you introduce a really bold alternative to Bush's tax-cut plan, and he said, well, we have to do it one step at a time, and my question is why. What, is this an A.A. program? You know, why do you have to do it one step at a time?

And that's what is missing. You know, when you have this strong narrative that the Republican Party has, you know, the boldness that Bush portrays, you need an equally bold but correct alternative that is in the public interest, and that's not an offer at the moment.

KING: How are you doing in your battle with Detroit?

HUFFINGTON: Well, I'm driving a hybrid car, 52 miles to the gallon. I wish that it were an American car. It's a Toyota hybrid, Preus.

And I believe that the technology exists right now to produce fuel-efficient cars that do 40 miles to the gallon, and, unfortunately, the leadership is lacking.

So what Detroit is doing instead is giving zero financing, spending $8 billion a year advertising their cars, instead of leading the way to the next generation of cars that will be fuel efficient.

KING: Well, why couldn't that be profitable to Detroit?

HUFFINGTON: It would be.

KING: So why...

HUFFINGTON: And it could be.

KING: Why not do it then?

HUFFINGTON: Because, unfortunately, it's all about leadership, and, right now, that's what we're in greatest need for, you know, leadership, business leadership, political leadership.

KING: Some other areas. Why haven't more Enron people been punished?

HUFFINGTON: Because, basically, this administration is beholden to corporate America. Ken Lay should have been in jail by now. Instead, you have the political theater of Martha Stewart. And...

KING: That's political theater?

HUFFINGTON: It's political theater. I'm not saying that she didn't do things wrong, I'm not saying that she didn't obstruct justice or that she didn't lie, we don't have the evidence for all that, but it's very possible. What I'm saying -- that it is minuscule compared to what Ken Lay did, compared to what Jack Grubman and the other analysts on Wall Street did that had a real impact on people's lives.

KING: Your former husband ran for the Senate, a great race, and you were involved in that. What do you think of Schwarzenegger and the Republicans and the governorship?

HUFFINGTON: Well, what I think...

KING: You live in California.

HUFFINGTON: ... is that -- I live in California, and what I think -- that I would like to see somebody run for governor who actually can raise the key issues of the time, and the key issues of the time is that we have to stop the trend of us being a feudal society where you see every day more and more evidence that the elite is doing better and better and is getting away even without having to admit wrongdoing...

KING: Do you think Schwarzenegger is a potential populist?

HUFFINGTON: No, I don't think so.

KING: You don't think so?

HUFFINGTON: No, I don't think, first of all, anybody driving a Hummer in California should get elected.

KING: You're tough, you know.


KING: People get away -- don't get away with things with you.

HUFFINGTON: No, it's preposterous. It's preposterous to be driving a Hummer at a time when you can also get a tax credit up to $100,000, because the administration, again, has gotten so much money from Detroit, for driving a Hummer, or any other huge SUV, and on top of it, Larry, I mean there is a connection between fuel efficiency and oil independence and our dependence on countries like Saudi Arabia that are harboring terrorists.

KING: Where does your optimism come from, since so many things you write about -- with humor -- are pessimistic? HUFFINGTON: Well, partly because ultimately I believe -- and history proves -- in the power of the people when they speak out and organize, and again and again in this country, whether it was the civil-rights movement, the women's movement, the movement to end the war in Vietnam, it wasn't elected officials who led the way. It was always the people. You know, it was young people sitting down at lunch counters in North Carolina.

KING: The elected officials follow, right?

HUFFINGTON: Follow. Exactly. Elected officials -- when the critical mass is reached, when we've had the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) point, we get to the front of the parade. Even Lyndon Johnson -- you know, he had to be forced to go with the Voting Rights Act. There had to be the Selma march before.

KING: Yes, they had to -- they're led. They don't lead, right?

HUFFINGTON: Exactly. So now we've got Elle Woods of "Legally Blonde 2" and, and hundreds of thousands of Americans getting involved, like never before.

I just finished a 20-college tour around the country, and it's just amazing to see from Harvard and Yale to Vincennes, Indiana -- to see young people caring about something other than their own careers.

KING: Hopefully, less pigs.

HUFFINGTON: Pure pigs.

KING: Thank you, darling.

HUFFINGTON: Thank you.

KING: Arianna Huffington. A terrific book. "New York Times" bestseller and deservedly so. "Pigs at the Trough." It is published by Crown.

And we're looking forward to her next one coming early next year, right?

We'll be back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE right after this.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.

Mike Wallace called me recently and said you've got to read a book that's written by a friend of mine, a producer for CBS "60 Minutes" and "60 Minutes II." His name is George Crile. And the book is "Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary History of the Largest Covert Operation in History" -- "The extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History."

Read the book in a couple of days while I was in Honolulu. It's an incredible read. How did you come upon this?

GEORGE CRILE, "CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR": I came upon it through one of those great commissions you get from "60 Minutes," and this one was to go out to Afghanistan to try to figure out what the United States was doing in supporting the Afghans, and I stumbled across this astonishing character, Charlie Wilson.

KING: But everybody knows Charlie Wilson. I've known him for years, and I used to see him hanging around restaurants in Washington, and he -- how long was he in Congress?

CRILE: He was there for almost three decades, you know, but -- everybody knew him, but what they knew about him...

KING: Well, he was a ladies' man. That's what he -- Charlie Wilson was a good old boy ladies' man.

CRILE: Probably the wildest man in Congress, bar none.

KING: What did you come up with?

CRILE: Well, I came up with -- after having cracked the code of Charlie Wilson -- of discovering that he had managed to hijack a CIA covert policy and transform it into the biggest CIA campaign in history. It essentially the funding of a jihad that become the silver bullet that delivered a lethal blow to the Soviet Union.

KING: Why did he have to hijack it to get it done?

CRILE: Oh, the -- one of the great secrets of the Cold War was the -- what had happened to the CIA by the time Jimmy Carter got well into his presidency. They had all but gotten out of the covert action business. They didn't like it. They always got caught and embarrassed and investigated, and Carter really wanted them to go -- switch away from it.

And when the Afghans were invaded by the Soviets, they began a -- they began a covert operation, but it was calibrated and careful and cautious. They didn't want to -- they didn't believe anything could result from it in terms of a victory. So they were playing it reasonably safe when Charlie Wilson came along and decided he was going to change the rules of the -- the old rules of the game.

KING: And it makes for an extraordinary read. It deserved bestseller.

What changed Charlie, though? In other words, was Charlie always inside this kind of person we didn't know?

CRILE: Charlie was a -- something of a fake.


CRILE: On the face of it, he was good-time Charlie, cocaine Charlie. He was...

KING: Yes. Women.

CRILE: You know, belly dancers and -- and so many pretty women in his office that everybody on the Hill called them Charlie's Angels. But Charlie was an old-fashioned patriot. I think he really deserves to be thought of as the last hurrah of that -- Tom Brokaw's greatest generation.

He -- you know, he grew up being inspired, listening to the radio, before television, to Winston Churchill at the Battle of Britain -- never -- never surrender, he was telling the British, and Edward R. Murrow and Roosevelt right after Pearl Harbor and the Day of Infamy speech.

And somewhere in that early years when Charlie was growing up in the tiny town in Texas -- Trinity, Texas -- less than 3,000, he became possessed by the idea that he was one day going to lead a great battle for freedom, and it was a vision he never shared with anybody, but it burst him right out of that small town into Annapolis and -- on his way to building a real power base in Congress.

KING: George, do you see any down side to the training and arming of Afghans with cell phones and Stingers and the like?

CRILE: Well, I -- having spent so many years doing investigative reports about the CIA which were highly critical, this was one -- this was a -- this was a secret war that I thought was appropriate, that operated very much within the value systems of this country.

And, you know, in spite of the fact that its size dwarfed anything ever imagined, it was almost over $4 billion of aid provided to the Afghans on the backs of camels and mules and donkeys, and, in the end, it gave -- it gave the Soviets their Vietnam. We did for them in Afghanistan what they had done to us in Vietnam.

And the Berlin Wall came down just a few months after the last Soviet soldier crawled out of -- out of Afghanistan, and everything up until that point, I think, was just right, and everything after it was just wrong.

KING: And we kind of reneged in Afghanistan -- you think that's part of the 9/11 preamble?

CRILE: Oh, you can't separate -- you know, the amazing thing is that after 9/11, somehow in this country no one mentioned the fact that the United States had funded the one and only triumphant jihad of modern history, and...

KING: Yes.

CRILE: ... and when we are saying funded a jihad, I mean armed, trained, supported for over a decade sometimes as many as a half- million Afghans who would be carrying weapons given by the CIA.

KING: Amazing. George, it's an amazing book. I salute you. I can't recommend it enough.

CRILE: Thank you, Larry. Thank you.

KING: You deserve all the credit for the great job of reporting.

George Crile. It's on "The New York Times" bestseller list. It's "Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History." I read it in two days. You will, too. It's some book.

Let's go now to Washington, D.C., and meet a good friend. We're going to end the show a little differently tonight. That's Michael Buble. He's the gentleman -- if you don't know him, you're going to be hearing a lot about him because he's a great young singer. He has a new album out simply titled "Michael Buble," but it's not a rock album. Michael sings pop. Michael sings Sinatra, Damone.

How come you go that route?

MICHAEL BUBLE, "MICHAEL BUBLE": Well, my grandfather was a huge influence for me, Larry, and I'd always been fond of the style of music, and he really just kind of mentored me and helped me to fall in love with it deeper.

KING: And is there an audience for it?

BUBLE: You know what's funny, is the audience is pretty young. The age at my shows ranges from about, I guess, 13 years old to -- you know, to a hundred. So it's amazing.

KING: You debuted in New York. It got tremendous reviews. How did you do?

BUBLE: I -- I loved it. I -- you know, so far, everywhere I'm going, I think the people are very sweet, and we're getting now receptions, and I'm on LARRY KING. So things can't be going that badly for me.

KING: And you sing a lot of songs in that terrific movie "Down With Love," too.

BUBLE: That's right. That's right. And I quite enjoyed it actually. I just saw it a little while ago, and I had a good time.

KING: And you're going to do a particular favorite of mine tonight. In fact, it was my wedding song. It's one of my favorite songs. I'm so happy you chose it. This if from the new album, right?

BUBLE: Yes, and that's -- and I chose it exactly for that reason, too, for you and Shawn, so...

KING: Well, I thank you.

BUBLE: And I'm...

KING: Here's...

BUBLE: Sorry. KING: I'm sorry. You want to add something?

BUBLE: I just want to -- I want to tell you that I'm totally vaclemped that I'm here. I'm -- I'm thrilled. Thank you.

KING: Take a deep breath. Here he is, vaclemped and all. One of my favorite people. You're going to be hearing tons about him. We're going to end it. If you haven't seen him, we're going to introduce you to him tonight. From his album simple titled "Michael Buble," we close things out with Michael Buble and my song, "The Way You Look Tonight."


BUBLE: Some day, when I'm awfully low / When the world is cold / I will feel a glow just thinking of you / And the way you look tonight / You're lovely / With your smile so warm / And your cheeks so soft/ There is nothing for me but to love you / Just the way you look tonight / With each word your tenderness grows / tearing my fears apart / And that laugh that wrinkles your nose / It touches my foolish heart / Lovely / Never, ever change / Keep that breathless charm / Won't you please arrange it / Cause I love you / Just the way you look tonight / Just the way you look tonight


KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Join us again tomorrow for an in-depth interview with actress and former underage porn queen Traci Lords.

Stay tuned for more news on CNN, the most trusted name in news.

Good night.


Huffington, George Crile, Michael Buble>

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