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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Jon Stewart

Aired February 27, 2006 - 21:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Jimmy Carter agrees with Bush trying to fit information into my head, not (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Jon Stewart counting down to hosting this Sunday's Oscar show where anything can happen. Making you laugh with all the latest news as only he can. We'll take your calls too. Jon Stewart for the hour is next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's a great pleasure to welcome Jon Stewart to our program. He's going to host the Academy Awards this Sunday night.

STEWART: This Sunday? Oh, gees.

KING: And he's here tonight kicking off -- are you nervous? You got to be nervous.

STEWART: I'm always nervous. You're a huge star. You have very probing questions. I'm always nervous when I'm -- when I'm on your program.

KING: How about the Academy Awards?

STEWART: Ah, not so much. No, I'm excited more than I am nervous. I know it seems to be portrayed as a bigger deal. Maybe I'm not understanding it.

KING: (INAUDIBLE) people that bomb.

STEWART: Yes, but I bombed in front of, you know, a lot of different audiences. This will just be the most famous audience that I bombed in front of. I bombed once so badly at Radio City Music Hall when they reopened and when I walked off stage Shirley Jones hugged me, the Partridge Family mother. I walked off stage. I didn't even know her and she just did this, oh, and then I had to go and accept a hug from Shirley Jones.

KING: But when you're this big -- first of all, how did you get this?

STEWART: It's a big event but...

KING: How did you get it?

STEWART: I'm sorry?

KING: How did you get this offer?

STEWART: Oh, they called and I said sure. I'm not even sure they got out Academy Awards before I said sure. They said, "Would you like to," and I said sure and that was it. It was actually quite simple. They called right around Christmas, so it was very exciting for me. Besides, you know, Jews don't normally get presents around that time of year. Normally we just sleep in, so it was kind of exciting.

KING: How are you approaching it?

STEWART: With a workman-like focus, a laser-like focus, with energy, with discipline. I get up around 5:00 usually pretty hammered and I roll over (INAUDIBLE).

KING: You're revved up.

STEWART: No, I got a couple of my guys with me from "The Daily Show," we're out writing. I mean the truth is we've been doing "The Daily Show" for all the way up until just this week, so I've kind of been focused on that. And, at home, my wife and I just had another baby, so I've also been thinking about that. So, you know, this is a nice period for me to really be able to sit down and focus on it.

KING: Speaking of that you're newest baby is Maggie Rose (ph), right?

STEWART: Newest baby, you make it sound like a line of clothing.

KING: We have -- we have a Republican and a Democrat.

STEWART: Ah, that is the sweetest.

KING: What better gift for Jon Stewart?

STEWART: You know what, there's nothing that a 3-week-old appreciates more than an ironic gesture.

KING: And it's cuddly.

STEWART: Thank you. This is -- this is lovely and it has a flag and, oh look at that, made in China, hum. So it really does represent the parties. That's exciting. Is that -- are you sure this is a donkey?

KING: It looks like a donkey. It's sort of weird-looking donkey.

STEWART: It's a little bit of a weird-looking donkey and you got this from the CNN Gift Shop?

KING: No. I don't know where. The crew got it. STEWART: Does CNN have a gift -- you didn't get this?

KING: We have a gift...

STEWART: Well thank you for the thoughtful gift that your crew picked up while you were getting spa treatments. I'm ashamed of you. This is really -- thank you so much to the unpaid interns. When are you guys going to (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Is it true are you picking the Oscar winners?

STEWART: Yes. This year they're going to try something different is just right before the announcement I'm just going to write whatever name pops into my head on a card and that's who wins. It's very different this year because Price Waterhouse, as you know, was bought by a company in Dubai, so the security at this year's Oscars is going to be handled by an Arab company.

KING: So, in other words this will be a set up?

STEWART: What will be a set up?

KING: The winners. You will know the winner before it's announced?

STEWART: No, no, of course it's a very protected process and it's very secretive and no one can know. Actually, no one does know until -- I feel badly for the guy in the orchestra. Bill Conte has to learn all five songs depending on whether or not who's going to win. I'm hoping Terrence Howard wins. I just want to hear Bill Conte and the orchestra play "It's Tough out Here for a Pimp." I just want to hear how that sounds with violins. Have you been to the Oscars?

KING: I've never, you know, I've never. I go to the "Vanity Fair" party but I've never been to the Oscars. Oh, George Clooney invited me to be his guest this year.

STEWART: And I'm sure he meant that. I'm sure he did.

KING: I'm holding him.

STEWART: What could happen? If it goes badly for me, what could happen? Will they stop honoring film? Like what really is the huge jeopardy here? It's really just for me right?

KING: There's no jeopardy. The only jeopardy is you.

STEWART: Except for me is that I will be scorned.

KING: I mean do you know that let's say Letterman had a bad time is that part...

STEWART: And he seems to have bounced back. He seems to have done reasonably well.

KING: Yes, I would say. STEWART: Yes, so I think that -- and by the way have you ever watched that show, like I have a DVD of it? He's hilarious. He's really funny on it. It's actually quite funny and the (INAUDIBLE) Oprah thing that everybody always talks about he tagged it with, "Oh, and also I want to introduce you to my friend Keanu" and the place went crazy. They laughed like hell. So, it's, you know, the lore of it is somewhat different than it seems the reality.

KING: You are very cool with this.

STEWART: I'm sorry?

KING: You're very cool with this.

STEWART: I'm excited. You know I feel like so you give up a homerun in the All Star game, do you know what I mean? At least you got there. I have very low expectations for myself, so this is one of those things that, you know, it has surprised me so far people's anxiety level for me. You know there's -- I really have gotten a sense where people are like "Are you OK?" And I just think yes.

KING: Well you know why. You're not Hollywood. You're not...

STEWART: Right.

KING: You're different.

STEWART: But that's why I think the jeopardy is much less for me. What are they going to do bump me down from basic cable? How far lower? Where am I going to go public access? What can happen? This is the biggest stage I've ever been on. It's the grandest opportunity I've ever had. I just think it's -- I vow to enjoy it.

KING: Are you going to have a spectacular opening?

STEWART: Oh!

KING: A Billy Crystal kind of thing, a dance, a dance?

STEWART: As you know I am a triple threat.

KING: Are you going to do something? Are you going to dance?

STEWART: I'm going to -- I have been studying some of the openings. I've got a Gene Kelly (INAUDIBLE) that is going to blow you away. It's going to be a -- I'm sorry, did I say Gene Kelly? I meant Gene Rayburn.

KING: That's too hip for them.

STEWART: It's too hip for the room, all right, fair enough.

KING: All right, let's move to some things. Jon Stewart will host the Oscars Sunday night.

STEWART: It's going to be the most controversial Oscars ever. I would not be surprised if the whole country tunes in.

KING: Will you, truthfully will you get into politics?

STEWART: Sorry? You mean after I retire as a comedian?

KING: No, will you get into politics Sunday?

STEWART: Oh, I'm sure there will be references and such like that but I'm not -- I'm not going out there, you know, looking to blow the place up. I want to -- I want to do a nice job. Really for the most part the pressure I feel is for the actors and actresses and people that are nominated and who are there and it's their big day and you don't want to screw up their wedding. You don't want to be the deejay going, you know, all right everybody let's play Celebrate. Where's my CD? You know.

KING: Have they given you any parameters, like you can't say this?

STEWART: Yes, gigantic booklet.

KING: Really?

STEWART: Terrible, terrible restrictions on many things, no adverbs. I don't even know where that comes from. Why wouldn't you want something that could help describe a noun or a verb or a...

KING: Any rules?

STEWART: No, they've been very cool. They do want to see the stuff beforehand.

KING: Like they haven't said don't mess -- they do?

STEWART: Yes, they said you have to do, I think the quota was six gay cowboy jokes. Apparently every show that goes on from now until next February has to have six gay cowboy jokes including non- film award shows which I think is (INAUDIBLE).

KING: I read somewhere you've only seen one movie the whole year.

STEWART: No, that's ridiculous.

KING: That's what it said.

STEWART: "40 Year Old Virgin."

KING: That's the only one you saw?

STEWART: Quite good. No, I've actually seen quite a few and enjoyed them tremendously and I'm stunned at the quality of the nominees this year.

KING: All right, I'm glad. When we come back, you said it perfectly. STEWART: Thank you so much.

KING: When we come back we'll get into things political with Jon Stewart. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: Man, do you have -- do you ever -- do you ever have a weekend and you think to yourself "I'm just sad. Nothing fun ever happens anymore. I just -- nothing really gets my blood going and gets me excited to be alive again." Well, if you had one of those weekends, look and listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vice President Dick Cheney has accidentally shot an injured a friend with whom he was hunting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Birdshot fired from the vice president's weapon apparently wounded a fellow hunter.

STEWART: Thank you, Jesus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": I hate it when somebody tries to capitalize on someone else's misfortune.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you mean?

LETTERMAN: Look at this. Look what I got here. This is Cover Girl, you know the makeup people?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course.

LETTERMAN: With a brand new item, first time on the shelves today. Take a look at this. It's something called Birdshot Concealer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, Birdshot Concealer (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: That is a surprising product.

KING: We're back with Jon Stewart. All right, what do you make of that story?

STEWART: Now what story was that?

KING: The Cheney story?

STEWART: It was obviously -- the fact that the guy was OK was the whole, as far as for a comedian goes that's the whole reason you could sort of dine on it for a week. Obviously, if the guy had been seriously injured or when he had the heart attack we downgraded it from pants wettingly funny to still pretty funny but there is a tinge of sadness. There is some melancholy. If he had died, obviously, it moves into Brechtian territory. Then it's not so funny unless sung.

KING: Do you hunt?

STEWART: I'm sorry?

KING: Do you hunt?

STEWART: I hunt in the most dangerous quarry of all, Larry, man. No, I don't. I've never hunted. I held a gun once in a bar fight but I was behind the bar and an off duty cop got clocked and it was at an (INAUDIBLE) concert. The bar that I worked at was City Gardens in New Jersey and I ended up with the guy's gun behind a bar and very heavy the gun and I realized right then I would never make a cop because I could never do this. If I had the gun, it would be one of these, there you go.

But I can understand why it's -- why shooting things is interesting, although not the way -- apparently there's a thing that they do where it's not exactly like in the wild because they don't have that much time and the birds are raised in a pen and their wings are taken off and, you know, because it's -- because the vice president travels obviously with, you know, doctors and a medical helicopter and the cast of "ER" or whatever the hell he's got with him

So a real bird I'm sure would be like, "Oh my God, listen to that" and they'd be out of there, so they -- they hunt what we call quail tarts, which are specially raised birds that hear noise and go "I'm going to go check that out," walk over and the vice president can just walk right up to them and either shoot them with his gun or hit them in the face with his hammer, whatever he wants to do.

KING: Sport it's not?

STEWART: It doesn't seem to be sport. It seems to be hunting for unbelievably rich, busy people. I love the description too of the guy he shot was literally like a Bush pioneer who also runs, you know, his own country somewhere.

KING: CBS poll just out...

STEWART: Yes.

KING: ...Bush 34 percent, lowest rating he's ever had and Cheney 18 percent.

STEWART: The 18 percent thing is you really have to think of this in -- let's look at this just purely statistically. Four out of five dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum. So, there is one out of five dentists who say "You chew gum? Ah, why not put sugar in it?"

These are not the best dentists, OK that's 20 percent. He's not even getting all the dentists who recommend sugared gum. That's low. I think Dracula has a higher Q rating right now than the vice president.

KING: And the president, 34?

STEWART: Thirty-four percent is -- that's a little bit shocking because I always thought he would never dip sort of below 40 percent. I felt like he sort of had this...

KING: Core.

STEWART: He seems like he's a really good president for one very particular part of the country and they have really rallied around him and when you start to lose that support, you know, he's never -- when you look at the vote how it breaks down it's, you know, 51 percent for Bush, 49 percent for whoever the Democrat was but the Democrats have only like two or three percent of the power. The fact that Bush is having, you know, the base that he goes with erode I think that says a lot.

KING: What do you make of this Arab Emirate story and guarding the ports?

STEWART: I'm trying to figure out how whoever is running the ports could inspect actually less than the five percent that are inspected now. I mean apparently they only inspect five percent of what comes in there, so you don't know if, you know, when a ship comes in you don't know if it's unloading rattan chairs for Pier 1 Imports or Chinese sex slaves, like nobody has any idea.

So, I'm not exactly sure what that -- I know that it sounds bad. I know that if, you know, in America today it's as though somebody has stoked fear in this country. I don't know who that might have been but it appears that the country is poised to react, let's say reflexively with a certain xenophobic zeal.

KING: But when you stoke fear why then would you have the people you are saying to be fearful of run your ports?

STEWART: Because you forgot you had stoked the fear. I'm not so sure they're paying much attention to the speeches they gave three weeks ago. "We're at war." Then three weeks later. "I don't understand. What's wrong with the port deal?" You know it's as though when you're at war, you know, he put us on war footing. You remember that. And then he seemed absolutely shocked that anyone would complain that perhaps our ports might be run from foreign nationals, although apparently most of them are.

The more you look into it the more it seems like not a very big story but I think like everything, people are reacting to the way that this administration does their business, which is I really feel like Bush just is like Santa. I know who's naughty. I know who's nice. You have no reason to pay attention. No, the Dubai guys are OK. These guys over here they're evildoers. These guys are OK. Don't look into it.

KING: We'll be right back with Jon Stewart. This Sunday night he will host the Academy Awards.

STEWART: Sunday?

KING: Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: Now for those of you wondering why Dubai is being rewarded with these contracts, enjoy that, it wasn't hard you just take off the S. It's really not hard. It's nothing to be impressed of.

If you're wondering why Dubai is being rewarded with these contracts, it is not because Dubai is a monarchy that offers its guest workers no rights or because Dubai was the home base of two of the 9/11 hijackers. It's actually just quid pro quo because they took Michael Jackson off our hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL MAHER, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": Mardi Gras starts tomorrow in New Orleans. Talk about perfect timing. Those truckloads of ice from FEMA just showed up, perfect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: That's a good joke.

KING: We're back. You like Maher's work?

STEWART: Yes, that's a good joke. He's solid.

KING: We're all into him. OK. Jack Abramoff.

STEWART: Abramoff, apparently, you know, he's a...

KING: Pled guilty.

STEWART: He's pled guilty. Let me tell you something. This is no way -- he's a guy. He's an Orthodox Jew who is running what is a corrupt lobby. This in no way reinforces any negative stereotypes that people may have had towards let's say Jews, just a bad apple, just a guy who happens to accept money from whoever comes for corruption and personal favors. I think it's good for us. I think it's good for the Jews.

KING: Good for the Jews?

STEWART: Next question.

KING: And (INAUDIBLE).

STEWART: What do you think? Have you ever had Abramoff? Every time a guys comes up...

KING: No, I've never had Abramoff.

STEWART: ...that is -- that is -- that they find out, like Ken Lay, like any of those guys, everybody starts walking away like, get away. Yes, who was this Abramoff guy? Apparently he's the guy that literally financed the entire infrastructure for this whole K Street project for the entire sort of GOP renaissance in Washington.

KING: They all back off.

STEWART: Everybody. Bush, you know, whenever that happens, he did the same thing with Chalabi, Abramoff, "Yes I think I met him at a Hanukkah celebration. We lit a candle at it. I didn't remember his name. I think I shook his hand." I don't -- and then there's like pictures with like the two of them naked in a sauna. You're just like what's going on around here? Why don't they ever own up?

You know, Chalabi, Chalabi, the name is something -- then they show footage, you know, Chalabi is sitting directly behind Laura at the State of the Union address, you know, literally flicking her ear. I think I heard of him.

KING: Who in this administration fascinates you the most?

STEWART: The American people for their just utter patience. And everybody, it just seems like I just don't know what it's going to take. What else, you know, there is this whole -- my mind has been blown just so consistently by this administration's insistence on their own competence without ever sort of delivering kind of any sort of evidence to that. I think at this point everybody just kind of rolls their eyes like, ah, those guys are at it again.

KING: Who do you see on the Democratic side of the ledger forging forth?

STEWART: I like this guy John Kennedy, since him not so much. No, there's not, I mean I don't really see anybody forging forth from there. I don't.

KING: Hillary?

STEWART: Well, certainly she's -- people recognize her name and go "Hey, that's that lady that was married to the president. Let's vote her in." You know, I don't see anybody out there who has inspired.

You know, everybody thought Barack Obama was going to be when he came into Washington but, you know, the Senate seems like the place where smart people go to die like it does and you never hear from them again. So, you know, I'm not exactly sure. Do you have a favorite on the Democratic side? Do you have -- I'm not even sure...

KING: Well, the former governor of Virginia, Mr. Warner, seems very impressive.

STEWART: Oh, is that so?

KING: You don't know him?

STEWART: No, I don't know anyone.

KING: Mark Warner, he's very...

STEWART: Mark Warner, OK, I'll vote for him then.

KING: You don't have to vote for him.

STEWART: No, I'm fine. If you say it, if you're vouching, I'll vote. Is that a vouch?

KING: I'm not vouching. He's an impressive guy.

STEWART: You gave him a vouch. Don't back off of the vouch. That's a vouch.

KING: I'm backing off of the vouch.

STEWART: I'm voting for Warner.

KING: Frist (INAUDIBLE).

STEWART: Let's vote tomorrow. Frist, please! He diagnosed Terri Schiavo as not being in a persistent vegetative state from like five seconds of a videotape. The guys a cardiologist, "Ah, she looks OK." I mean that's the whole thing. This country we can't even get the two political parties to agree on what reality is.

You know the Democrats look at Terri Schiavo and they're like, "Ah, she's been dead for 20 years. Take her water away." The Republicans are like, "Ah, she's a couple of Pilates classes away from, you know, joining the Rockettes," like nobody can agree what reality is. I am so tired of both of these groups.

KING: Both.

STEWART: I cannot tell you.

KING: Then what is left for you, Jon?

STEWART: What is left for me?

KING: If you're tired of both groups?

STEWART: Hosting a basic cable show. That is what is left for me, sitting every day and getting to rub my eyes and make stupid faces on videotape. That is all that is left for me. That is the catharsis that I live for.

KING: So, in a sense you're happy over this.

STEWART: No.

KING: This gives you fodder.

STEWART: Yes, I prefer not the fodder. I'm not -- we're not the guys at the craps table betting against the line. I would -- we'd make fun of something else. If public life, if government suddenly became inspiring and moved towards people's better nature and began to solve problems in a rational way rather than just a way that involved political dividends, we would be the happiest people in the world to turn our attention to idiots like, you know, media people, no offense.

KING: So, you don't want it to be bad?

STEWART: Did you really just ask me if I want it to be bad?

KING: Yes because you...

STEWART: What are you -- I have kids what do you think? Yes, I don't want them to have any kind of a -- I want things to corrode to the point where we're all living in huts.

KING: Not all living in huts but generally comics political comics like things to go a little wrong, don't have to be the end of the world.

STEWART: Like things to go a little wrong like birdshot to the face of a guy that will survive.

KING: That's right.

STEWART: Not like things to go wrong until it's like Mad Max, every man for himself, let's all ride around with machineguns on, which seems to be the way that it's...

KING: You don't want Medicare to fail?

STEWART: Are you insane?

KING: No.

STEWART: You're literally asking me if I would prefer -- yes, Larry, what I'm saying to you as a comedian I want old people to suffer, old and poor people to suffer. That is -- that is -- what we want is -- what seems absurd to me is the length that Washington just seems out of touch with the desires of Americans to be spoken to as though they are adults.

I mean when you listen to Bush's speeches, and I'm leaving the Democrats out because I honestly don't feel that they make an impact. They have 49 percent of the vote and three percent of the power. At a certain point you go "Guys, pick up your game."

But Bush, you know the other day when he had the speech about us being addicted to oil, he says those things as though, you know, he just thought of it and we're disagreeing with him, like everybody's been saying that. Jimmy Carter said it I think in 1978.

And he comes out, "What people don't realize is we're addicted to foreign oil" and he's saying it like you're going "Get out of here." We're addicted. You don't get it people. You know he was the guy on the stump a few years ago making fun of hybrid cars because it wasn't manly.

KING: Our guest is Jon...

STEWART: And -- and his vice president did shoot a 78-year-old man in the face. Aaron Burr was the last vice president to shoot a guy in the face, Alexander Hamilton.

KING: And that was a duel.

STEWART: That was a duel based on personal integrity. This vice president thought a 78-year-old man was a bird. It happens. What are you going to do?

KING: We've declined as a society right?

STEWART: I cannot tell you how many times I'll turn around and go, "Grandpa," oh no it's a pigeon.

KING: Jon Stewart hosts the Academy Awards. You cannot tell...

STEWART: Sunday?

KING: ...Sunday, what might happen and he's not nervous.

STEWART: I am -- I am -- I'm excited. I think it's going to be -- we're going to have a lot of fun.

KING: We'll come back and include your phone calls for Jon Stewart. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: I've actually seen the new photos and there's one it's actually quite shocking where Lynndie England actually gives a man's genitals the thumbs down. That's just cruel.

But to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani the pictures were a fresh blow.

JALAL TALABANI, IRAQI PRESIDENT (through translator): At first when they asked me how angry are you? I said five or six microphones angry but the more I thought about it the more microphones I needed. As you can see from the sheer number of microphones, I am very angry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: You could produce an eight minute parody of "Star Wars" called Election Wars in which Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is Darth Nancy, evil cohort of sinister figures like Howard Dean and the dreaded campaign chair Rahm Emanuel. I've got news for you. If we are going to do the "Star Wars" analogy the Democrats are at best Ewoks, at best. Believe me, you'd be pumping up their egos to call them Jowas (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's Jon Stewart. He's our special guest live in Los Angeles tonight. He will host the Academy Awards Sunday night. We were talking before we take some calls that basically your schtick is the first ten minutes.

STEWART: First of all, don't call it schtick. That's insulting. I'm crafting things from whole cloth, comedic bits to raise and lower peoples and to conduct an orchestra of humorous puns and such. Schtick, please. Please, sir. And schtick is a kinnish. No, my friend, you and your Yiddish. I won't have it. Mu punim won't pupick.

KING: Manchester, New Hampshire, for Jon Stewart, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry, how are you doing tonight? Jon, it's a pleasure to talk with you. I have a question that refers back to your inference to the American people and how astounded you are that they don't react to the things that the Bush administration has done.

Do you think the Dubai incident will incense the people enough to say, hey, Americans should be the only people protecting America or do you think this will just be another one where they blink and say look at what they're doing again?

STEWART: First let me ask you a question. What the hell happened to Bode Miller? New Hampshire lady.

CALLER: I think he got a little bit too big for his ski boots.

STEWART: Thank you, I appreciate that. Now let's move on to the next thing. What was she saying?

KING: The American people, they put up with all this.

STEWART: First of all, the American people, it's like saying the media. There is no such thing as the American people. It's a collective of -- I mean, the whole thing is a melting pot, a collecting of individuals. And will this finally push people over the edge to notice? I have no idea. I keep wondering.

I keep wondering what it takes to get fired from this administration. It seems like literally the worse you do, the bigger the medal you get. Like the more you -- if you go -- George Tenet, it is a slam-dunk they have weapons of mass destruction. I'm sorry.

I can't think of a bigger mistake other than you walk in, let's say when you had your heart attack and you go in and somebody says, you have a broken leg . You had a heart attack. And then you would go, doctor, you get a medal. What's a bigger mistake than what he did and he was awarded with the Congressional Medal of Freedom. How does that fit in?

KING: Fresno, California. Hello.

STEWART: Look at you. You're beaten.

CALLER: Hello. Good evening, Jon. I'm crazy about you, Jon. Oprah Winfrey said that you're the real deal and I think that's the biggest compliment you can pay. My question was, what was it like for you and your wife when Oprah came and spent the afternoon with you?

STEWART: It was excellent. We had a wonderful time with Oprah. And when she left, we looked underneath our chair in our living room. New car. Unbelievable. She passes them out like the way that in New York City they slip menus under your door. Literally as she was leaving our building, she slipped a new car under everybody's door. She's like the candy man.

I really like what she does. You can be on TV for a long time and lose your mind and it gets relentless. I think her ability to affect things is really kind of a remarkable --

KING: She is remarkable.

STEWART: -- usage of your fame and wealth and I get a tremendous kick out of that.

KING: Manchester, Vermont.

STEWART: A lot of Manchesters tonight.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry, good evening, Jon.

My question is about "America: The Book."

STEWART: Oh, thank you.

CALLER: I teach history in a private school and I'm proud to say that I get a little wiggle room with what I use for resources and I'm actually going to incorporate a piece of the audio book into my teaching this week. And there's a chapter in the book towards the end about the future. And my question, Jon, is do you really think it's that bleak with the whole -- with the indifference of the people and the distraction of the left/right paradigm we live in? And what can we do, the people who try to make a difference?

STEWART: First of all, sir, I love your teaching style. I love the enthusiasm with which you bring forth your love of history. I'm sure your students appreciate that as well. Wow! that was all. I didn't hear anything but paradigm. Did you?

KING: No.

STEWART: He's talking about in the book we have a little thing on the future. The first thing I would say to a history teacher is we made half the stuff in that book up. So I would say that first and foremost. That to use any part of it in your class, I don't even know if that would be appropriate to use in a fiction class.

KING: You even signed it to someone here stupid book.

STEWART: I believe I did say stupid book and I stand by that. We're actually going to -- the idea that he would use it in a history class I think is a mistake. I'm just saying.

KING: What do you think of Anna Nicole Smith? It's before the Supreme Court.

STEWART: What are you doing to me?

KING: She's going to the Supreme Court to attend her hearing.

STEWART: You want me to comment on this administration and now we move on to Anna Nicole Smith. You just gave me a brain fart. I can't move to that. What do I think? How is she getting to the Supreme Court?

KING: She's suing the estate of her ex-husband. It's a bankruptcy case.

STEWART: And that's going to the Supreme Court?

KING: You didn't hear this?

STEWART: I'm a very busy man.

KING: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear it because it's a bankruptcy case and, therefore, it regards the federal law. And it's her case. And she's filed a complaint and they're hearing her complaint. They've agreed to hear her complaint. And she is in court for the hearing.

STEWART: We can't straighten out abortion law but they want to sit and have a couple of minutes with Anna Nicole Smith? They want to come in and find out -- do you think this is a Trimspa thing? Do you think this is the justices, they really want just a couple of minutes to go, how did you have lose the weight? I mean look at Stevens over here? He's a bit of a tub. We talk to him all the time. He goes down to the Supreme Court gym. Can you give us any advice? Anna Nicole Smith is going to the Supreme Court? She's going to walk into the Supreme Court?

KING: Right.

STEWART: Thank God that justice has a blind fold on her eyes because if she were to see that, she would weep. If the justice statue saw Anna Nicole Smith she would literally gouge her own eyes out.

KING: You did it good. You said why did I go to that segue and you handled it great.

STEWART: Is that true? I'm quite good.

KING: You're a comic.

STEWART: Is that so?

KING: Yes.

STEWART: Thank you. I should host the Oscars.

KING: And he will this Sunday night.

STEWART: Sunday?

KING: And we'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: Of course the vice president called the president to tell him he was the shooter. In fact, we happen to have a recording of the call.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: Which is not to say it isn't creepy thinking of Karl Rove monitoring my e-mails, which is all of mine say the same thing. Hey, did you hear freedom is on the march and I quit smoking pot? Praise Jesus, Bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What do you make, by the way, before we take the next call, of listening in on phone calls for national security, without --

STEWART: Well, I love the idea, when they say if al Qaeda is calling you, we want to know. Yes, I think that sounds pretty reasonable. The problem is, they don't say -- again, it's like everything else.

They say, trust us, everything's fine. Yet, they've shown no real credibility. Honestly, all of this is credibility issues. If they could assure credibility and trust with the people, I think the people would be far more willing to trust their secretive nature. But to just come out at this point in the game and go, we're listening to phone calls, but it's really -- to tell you about it would put the whole operation in jeopardy, the war on terror.

KING: Charlotte, North Carolina, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I just have to tell you, Jon, you are the smartest, funniest man on TV and I just go to sleep every night with a smile on my face.

STEWART: I'm sitting right next to Larry.

CALLER: My question is, does your wife find you hilarious.

KING: Good question.

STEWART: You know, living with someone for ten years, the magic of my hilarity wears off.

KING: She doesn't laugh?

STEWART: No, she does. She's got a great sense of humor. But you know how it is. It's regular life. We don't sit and do spiel at the table. I say how is Maggie. We talk. But I hope she thinks I'm pleasant to be around.

KING: Is she out for the awards, your wife?

STEWART: No. She's going to come out right before the show but I'm out -- she's back home.

KING: How's the new baby?

STEWART: Great. Doing -- she's great. Doesn't say a lot.

KING: And does Nathan Thomas who is 19 months old --

STEWART: He's 19, almost 20 months.

KING: Does he like having a little sister?

STEWART: He likes her very much unless -- there's only one thing he doesn't really like and that's if Tracy or I touches her. Or goes near her. Or mentions her name. Or thinks about the baby. Other than that, I think he's bearing up very, very well. He loves her. He calls her Ghee (ph) and gets very excited. You know what's interesting he is very excited and will run in her room but doesn't know what to do once he gets in there. Then he looks at her and it's little and he doesn't know what to do.

KING: And it's some difference from boys to girls, let me tell you.

STEWART: Is that right?

KING: Night and day.

STEWART: What would be the difference?

KING: Just ain't the same.

STEWART: So you're suggesting that boys are different than girls?

KING: I am suggesting that. As babies.

STEWART: Interesting. Interesting. Are you suggesting maybe one has I don't know, a penis? And the other perhaps not so much?

KING: That's one of the things.

STEWART: Interesting.

KING: Decatur, Illinois, hello.

CALLER: Hello. I was wondering, regarding the cultural war we have between Republicans and Hollywood, how Jon feels this year's crop of nominees and the films that Hollywood chooses to celebrate, is that Hollywood thumbing its nose at Republicans or does it give kind of a vindication to the Republican party and possibly allow some backlash because the Hollywood finding a time of censorship becoming a real issue again, could it hurt them?

STEWART: I think that's a good question and it's a nice thing for the media to dissect but I'm not so sure how real it is. There's this idea that there are Republicans and Hollywood and there's such a thing as Hollywood and such a thing as Republicans and they're locked in a culture war. I just don't know what that is.

That strikes me as much more of a method for pundits and politicians to whip up excitement and votes and fear than it is a real thing. Hollywood is not -- there's this idea that there exists some sort of underground political Hollywood mockenation (ph) machine. Hollywood wants -- they're not red, they're not blue, they're green. They want money.

It's a business like any other business. You get a -- "Passion of the Christ went well." Great, replace Jesus with a talking lion. Narnia. Done. This idea that they're thumbing their nose at the country. They want -- what do you think they're just putting movies out because they don't want people to go to. I'm going to put this out because you know what, this is really going to make Iowa mad and I don't want them going anywhere near this thing.

KING: Let's check in with Anderson Cooper at the top of the hour.

STEWART: Is he crying again? Did something happen?

KING: He'll host "AC 360."

KING: Jon wants to know if you're crying, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: No but I expect to be on the night of the Academy Awards when I hear some of his jokes. I'll be here all week, try the veil.

STEWART: What's going on with them trailers -- did they move out the trailers yet?

COOPER: No, they're still in Arkansas, I'll have you know. We're in St. Bernard parish where there are tens of thousands of people who would very much like to have some trailers. There are none to be had. I want to show you a live shot right now of Bourbon Street. One slice of the Mardi Gras picture, a lot of people reveling. It seems very normal but of course that's only one slice of what is really happening here. Here in St. Bernard Parish, 45,000 homes here before Katrina. Now there are about 50 homes that are habitable.

Look behind me at this, it is a shrimp boat about 80 feet long. It was picked up and deposited here on a street. This is not a pier but a street in a community in St. Bernard Parish.

This boat was moved about four miles by the storm and no one knows how to get it out of here now. We'll show you what life is really like on the ground, the promises made and promises broken.

KING: We'll be with Anderson Cooper at the top of the hour. Back with Jon Stewart after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: This week the United States Military Academy announced it had discovered an al Qaeda employment contract detailing the benefits of joining the group and membership does have its privileges. Married males reeve 6,500 rupees and a week's vacation for every three weeks worked. Wow!

It sounds like there's no downside. Oh, right, the retirement plan. Hmm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Soon this whole crazy trip will be behind us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Behind us!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More coal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, the pressure, it's too much!

STEWART: Not to get all Dr. Phil on you, but you need balance in your life, or you'll just explode.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Funny you should say that, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: Now you're just being cruel. Now you're just being cruel.

KING: The new movie, "Doogal," in which our guest Jon Stewart plays the evil wizard Zeebad. Jon's character Zeebad is now one of McDonald's happy meal toys. So in the same week that he hosts the Oscars, he's a happy meals toy. In fact, we have it right here. It fell off.

STEWART: Boy, if that isn't a metaphor for what's going down with that flick.

KING: There it is, folks.

STEWART: I think it goes the other way.

KING: Fix it. Fix Zeebad.

STEWART: All right. Here you go. What you do is you do this, you twist it up, and then you go, and then you stare at it and think about your own sadness.

KING: Did you like doing that?

STEWART: Did I? Like?

KING: Like.

STEWART: It's easy. You know, you go into a room, and they put lines in front of you and you read it. And then after you read a line, they'll come out and go, can you sound angry on that one? And then you do it again, and then they go, yeah, that sounded kind of angry.

KING: Did you see a picture of the character you were playing?

STEWART: No, I did not. It was a movie already. It was a movie in England. I was under the impression that this was a foreign film that we were sort of redoing in an American version.

KING: It was a movie?

STEWART: Right. But it was called "The Magic Roundabout," I think, and it was a British film. So there actually -- it was already in English, just with British accents. So what they did is they got American actors to then do and, like, put in pop culture references for America. It is in no way a cynical undertaking to make money. It's an art form.

I think this is going to be the new wave. I think they're going to now -- you're going to see "Toy Story" redone in England with British people and...

KING: Do you know that next year you might be nominated?

STEWART: I can assure you, Larry -- and I feel pretty confident in saying this -- that next year, I will not be nominated, except for perhaps a Razzie. But I really don't feel that an Oscar. Maybe -- in fact, I can almost confidently state that...

KING: Goldie Hawn told us the other night that you were terrific in "First Wives Club" and they cut you out.

STEWART: Yes. I was so good that they felt it would shame the rest of the movie to have my scenes in it. Yes, it was -- I was -- I played her boyfriend, and apparently they felt that that was not inherently part of the storyline.

KING: Yes.

STEWART: And so she broke up with me before the movie started. So my role was not there.

KING: Kaput. Were you downtrodden? Were you hurt?

STEWART: I really feel like I have gotten to this weird place where rejection, like, or bombing or things like that is kind of like it's a good kind of pain. Like you get a shot to the ribs sometimes and you go, eh, I'm alive, you know what I mean? Like it doesn't -- it doesn't -- you get to a certain baseline where you feel confident in your ability to do that tiny little thing that you do. And the other stuff that you've been allowed to do is sort of gravy, and if it doesn't work out, that's really all right.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Jon Stewart right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: The other player in the drama, ranch owner and eyewitness Katharine Armstrong.

KATHARINE ARMSTRONG, RANCH OWNER: We were shooting a covey of quail. The vice president and two others got out of the car to walk up the covey.

STEWART: What kind of hunting story begins with getting out of your car?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: Here it is. Your moment of zen.

KING: I'm no Fred Astaire, but I've been known to bust a few moves on a dance floor now and then. So in honor of tonight's topic, I brought in two of the show's professional dancers to teach me some fancy footwork.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: Here's why we showed that.

KING: Yes.

STEWART: Most people don't realize you have legs.

KING: That's right. They only see me sitting.

STEWART: I'd always assumed that for the past 10 years, they just brought you in on some sort of cart. And it was just from here on up, and the rest of it is just some sort of auger-based fluid thing that was keeping you going.

So to see you move like that is really -- it was quite impressive.

KING: So that was the moment of zen.

STEWART: That was our moment of zen.

KING: Should I look at it as having made it?

STEWART: No, you should look at it as something denigrating, and absolutely beneath your status as an icon.

Now, did that -- was that enjoyable? You really have some moves there.

KING: Yeah, I did. I enjoyed it.

STEWART: Do you know how to dance? Do you know how to do any of those, like cha-cha or any of that kind of stuff?

KING: Not really. I'm faking it.

STEWART: Are you really?

KING: Yeah. I mean, I'm doing moves, but I don't know what I'm doing.

STEWART: What about joining that show? What about doing "Dancing With the Stars" or "Skating With the Stars" or "Quail Hunting with the Stars," whatever the next thing is going to be?

KING: I don't think I could handle that.

STEWART: Here's what I want to see. "Heart Surgery With the Stars." Just put a guy out there, maybe a guy you used to see on TV in the '70s, that you love, and Eric Estrada -- let them work with a cardiologist. Let them go in there, do -- you know how many people would tune in to see the guy from "Chips" do a heart transplant?

KING: Thank you, Jon. Good luck Sunday.

STEWART: Sunday?

KING: Sunday!

STEWART: I'm excited. It's always fun to be here.

KING: I love having you. STEWART: I enjoy this. And thank you for the toy.

KING: Before we go, we want to say happy birthday to a great lady and Oscar-winning actress. Dame Elizabeth Taylor is 74 years old today. She's a one-of-a-kind in show business, a good friend of this show. So here's to you, Liz. We wish you happiness, health, and a heck of a good time on your birthday.

Tomorrow night, we'll take a look at Katrina six months later. And on top of the scene is Anderson Cooper. He joins us from Louisiana right now to host "AC 360" -- Anderson.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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