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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Charlie Daniels

Aired July 23, 2003 - 19:54   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. For millions of Americans, Charlie Daniels means one thing, the devil in Georgia battling Johnny for his soul. But for millions of other Americans, Daniels is a lot more, having sold 18 million albums over a 35-year career. Eighteen million, that's amazing.
And right now he's also got a best-selling book out, "Ain't No Rag: Freedom, Family and the Flag."

Charlie Daniels is here with me right now, hopefully not looking for a soul to steal, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CHARLIE DANIELS, AUTHOR, "AIN'T NO RAG": Certainly not, no.

COOPER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), why writing?

DANIELS: Well, I started years ago when we started our Internet connection, our Web site, I should say.

COOPER: Right.

DANIELS: The guy that put it up knew I was pretty opinionated, and he said, Let's leave a place on here for you to write a column, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: And you are, you are real opinion. I mean, some of these things...

DANIELS: I'm pretty opinionated, yes.

COOPER: Yes, you know, open letter, I guess, to Hollywood, you call them "a bunch of pitiful, hypocritical, idiotic, spoiled mugwumps." You don't really pull any punches, do you?

DANIELS: No. But, you know, I was...

COOPER: You're like a country Ann Coulter.

DANIELS: I was pretty aggravated at the time I wrote that. It was during the time that they were doing the demonstrations against the war, which is all right. I have nothing against that.

COOPER: Is it the idea of celebrities coming forward to talk?

DANIELS: No, not at all. It's just -- it's not even what they did, it's the way they went about doing it. I was born in 1936. I remember the Second World War very well. Remember the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed. I remember Adolf Hitler very well. And when I hear somebody compared with him, he better be a pretty bad dude, because Hitler was -- Hitler was evil personified.

And they were saying -- comparing President Bush to Hitler, and these people are too young to even remember what Hitler was all about.

Then, of course, Sean Penn going to Iraq, which I quite -- what if John Wayne had gone to Nazi Germany in 1941?

COOPER: How -- I mean, the news yesterday, all over the papers, all over -- we talked about it all last night, about these two sons, Uday and Qusay, being killed. How good news is that?

DANIELS: That's a noble deduction, I tell you what. I'm glad -- I just wish they would get to -- if -- I want to see them get him and Osama and find those elusive weapons of mass destruction. And I think we...

COOPER: Do you think they'll be found?

DANIELS: Oh, yes, I think they'll be found. They're there, they're there somewhere. It's like trying to go out and, you know, dig up 50,000 acres of sand or something to try to find them. I'm sure they're there.

COOPER: From Hollywood, you do hear a lot of criticism, you know, it is a very liberal and at least, in a lot, the celebrities do come forward to talk. Why do you think that is?

DANIELS: I really don't know. I think it's the culture, for one thing, because I think a lot of people who are not really that way before they go there, and not everybody in Hollywood is that way. There are some notable exceptions.

But it just seems like that, you know, everybody kind of falls together, and since the in-crowd is that way, these people try to emanate them, and, you know, I don't think a lot of them really believe a lot of the stuff that they expound.

COOPER: Well, I know you do. And, I mean, the book is...

DANIELS: Very much so.

COOPER: ... "Ain't No Rag." And wish we had more time to talk. I'd love to hear you play, but unfortunately we're, we're, we're about out of time.

DANIELS: Well, I just enjoyed talking to you.

COOPER: It was a pleasure.

DANIELS: Thank you.

COOPER: And you got a belt buckle bigger than my head.

DANIELS: It's a -- somebody told me today, that's a car bumper, that's not a belt buckle.

COOPER: Charlie Daniels, thanks.

DANIELS: All right.

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