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Ex-Marine Actor Weighs in on Iraq; "Black Hawk Down" Author Shares View on Iran; Woman Becomes First on Pro Bowler Circuit
Aired July 3, 2006 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROE CONN, HOST: Hello, I`m Roe Conn. You may remember me as Skippy from TV`s "Family Ties." I`m all grown up now, and I host a radio show in Chicago. Anyway, since it`s a long weekend, Glenn Beck didn`t show up for work today -- that`s a shocker -- and asked me to fill in. And as soon they flew me in, put me up in a junior suite at a Courtyard Inn and paid me in cash, I jumped at the chance to help an old friend. That`s just the kind of guy I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CONN: Truth be told I wasn`t really Skippy, but I am very flattered by the comparison.
Anyway, as we celebrate our independence this holiday weekend, I cannot help but think about the brave men and women who are representing the United States every day in Iraq. Now, there`s a lot of discussion about the war. A lot of people wonder should we be staying there under these incredibly difficult circumstances or should we cut our losses, pack up and go home?
Here`s the thing. We can debate for hours on end the validity of why we went to Iraq in the first place, but the truth is we must stay the course. We can`t simply hand the country over to suicide bombers and the other numb-nut JAG (ph) dorks whose real agenda has nothing to do with the best interests of the Iraqi people.
Sure, now we don`t have to be an army of occupation, but that`s not what we`re doing there. If we were occupiers, gas would be three cents a gallon, you`d get green stamps and a commemorative piece of stemware when you leave the gas station.
We have to be steadfast, patient. Things will ultimately stabilize. It`s the way of the world. To leave now would send Iraq into utter chaos from which it might never recover. We already ruined their day once. Let`s not ruin it twice.
R. Lee Ermey served in the Marines as an actor, best known for his role in "Full Metal Jacket", and now he`s the host of "Mail Call" on the History Channel.
Lee, should we stay or should we go?
R. LEE ERMEY, U.S. MARINE CORPS (RET.)/ACTOR: Let`s rock and roll.
CONN: Are we -- you`re hearing all these people talking about exit strategies and trying to get out and we should be moving. What do you say to them?
ERMEY: That`s right. Well, I`m saying -- I`m saying, Roe, that we need to go in there and we have to be aggressive. We need to rock with this thing. The problem is I keep hearing exit strategy all the time. And I had to have -- that means something kind of like to me like surrender? Leave? Before the job is done? Quit? No, no, come on. Exit strategy.
I called a few generals. There is no such thing as an exit strategy until after the mission is accomplished. Then you start thinking about how you`re going to get your tanks out, how you`re going to pull back all of your supplies you`ve got in there.
Generally, with the military they leave a lot of their supplies in there, because it costs a lot more to move C-rations back out or MRE`s back out than it does to actually buy them at home, but there is no such thing as an exit strategy.
CONN: Now, Lee, you were in Vietnam; you served in Vietnam. You also have been to Iraq a number of times. What`s the biggest difference between the Vietnam era military and what`s going on over there today?
ERMEY: Well, the big difference that I see, Roe, is the simple fact that there`s a reason why we lost the war in Vietnam, and that reason would be because the politicians were running the war. There wasn`t a one of them that was qualified to call the shots, but that`s what they were doing.
The big deal in Iraq right now, the reason that we`re so far ahead of the game, we`re winning the war, is the simple fact that our commander in chief is allowing the generals, actually the generals, the people who were trained to win wars, run the war.
Of course, they`re calling the shots. Of course, he`s the commander in chief, and he`s kept informed about everything. If he disagrees with something, they explain it to him, and, you know, they get along well together. They`re doing a great job over there. No problem.
CONN: You think the Supreme Court last week screwed this thing up, though, by stopping the military tribunals?
ERMEY: You know what? Six of one, half dozen of another. Those -- you know, those people are vicious criminals. They are people that were caught in the battlefield at high port coming to kill our guys. We turned a few of them loose, and a good percentage of those few that we got loose returned to their home countries, got rifles, came back, and tried to kill us some more.
I`m sitting here saying, you know, as far as I`m concerned, they could keep those people in Guantanamo Bay or wherever -- Gitmo or wherever they want to keep them until the end of the war or until they die, plain and simple. It doesn`t make any difference to me. They`re guilty.
CONN: What if this war goes on for 50 years? Can you keep them there? Should the Marine Corps be responsible for those people for that long?
ERMEY: Of course. I think back during World War II what happened to those prisoners of wars that we had? The prisoners? Well, we had military tribunals, didn`t we? We decided what their fate was to be. That`s the way it should be.
When we fought the Japanese, we decided what the fate of the Japanese commanders and the wrongdoers, the violators of the Geneva Convention did back in those days, and we punished them.
CONN: All right. Before I let you go, Lee, before I let you go, I`ve got to ask you, they made a Barbie doll out of you, didn`t they?
ERMEY: That would be a motivational figure. Ken and Barbie are dolls. How many times I got to tell you people that? Don`t make me have to come down on you again, guy.
I`m going to come to Chicago in December. I always come to Chicago. We kick Toys for Tots off together.
CONN: Yes, we do. We do.
ERMEY: You don`t want me to kick you, do you?
CONN: No, absolutely not. You`re the absolute best. Thank you so much.
ERMEY: Semper fi. You have a great day, all the best for the show.
CONN: And the situation in Iraq may make it difficult to take an action in a country that`s just as volatile, Iran. Yes, their numb nut president, Ahmadinejad, seems to not like us all that much. Plus, they have a history. And may or may not be in the nuclear weapons business.
Mark Bowden, author of "Black Hawk Down" and the recent "Deaths of the Ayatollah", which is now a documentary on the Discovery Times Channel, is this guy all bluster or should we really fear him?
MARK BOWDEN, AUTHOR, "DEATHS OF AYATOLLAH": Well, Ahmadinejad is playing pretty much to a home audience, but he`s a true believer and I think a fanatic, but he isn`t really the person in power there.
CONN: Who is in power?
BOWDEN: The Ayatollah Ali Khameini and the Guardian Council of Clerics are the rulers of Iran.
CONN: What sort of influence do they have on the president?
BOWDEN: Well, they`re basically -- he does their bidding. You know, that country is the fake democracy. They have elections, but they only allow the candidates to run for office who they choose. And any legislation that is passed by their parliament and signed by their president has to meet the approval of the Guardian Council.
CONN: Now, back in 1979, obviously, we had the hostage crisis. That was our first battle with militant Islam?
BOWDEN: Well, it was certainly the first time that the United States in modern times confronted Islamist fundamentalism. I know it`s certainly the first time I ever heard the United States called the great Satan and along with it all of the sort of religious rhetoric that we`ve become so familiar with.
CONN: Now, was Ahmadinejad or whatever his name is -- that`s a tough one, you have to admit. That`s not an easy one. Was he one of the hostage takers? Because there`s a lot of debate about that.
BOWDEN: He was. He was one of -- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of the five.
CONN: Hey, you can say it, good.
BOWDEN: I have to do a lot of these (ph). But he was one of the five students who planned the takeover of the embassy, and he was one of the leaders of the students who held the hostages for more than a year. So that`s one of his claims to fame.
CONN: So now he`s a Ph.D., a traffic engineer and planning guy. Is he actually doing anything to the infrastructure of Iran?
BOWDEN: Well, you know, to answer that question, I don`t really know, Roe. I know that he was the mayor of Tehran before he was elected to this office, and he was generally, you know, reasonably highly regarded as the mayor of Tehran because he was thought not to be corrupt, which is a big problem there. And he has kind of a populist style, but in terms of what he`s actually done for the infrastructure, I don`t really know.
CONN: Now, we keep hearing that all the Iranian youth, they love iPods, blue jeans and rap music. Is that really true? Or do they love this guy? Where is the youth on this?
BOWDEN: Young people in Iran generally are very tired of living under this theocratic regime and in fact began to rise up on college campuses about four or five years ago, but it was -- they were cracked down on by the regime. A number of the student leaders were thrown in jail. A lot of students lost their very important scholarships to school. So young people have kind of -- have been frightened into submission today.
Ahmadinejad has, I think, probably achieved some popularity in that country that he didn`t really have before by picking this fight with the United States and the western world over nuclear power.
CONN: So is there -- is there any chance that the youth movement can actually ever overtake him? Sort of a reverse revolution?
BOWDEN: Yes, there`s a chance of it. I think the question is how long can an unpopular authoritarian regime remain in power? And sadly, the answer is for generations. I mean, Castro has done it in Cuba for half a century.
CONN: Mark, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
BOWDEN: You`re welcome, Roe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONN: Let me ask you this as a constitutional attorney, Mike. Don`t you think the Supreme Court needs more hot babes on it than it presently has?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It -- the Supreme Court -- does it need more hot babes?
CONN: More hot babes. I don`t think that Ruth Bader Ginsberg really represents the level of hotness that you need on the Supreme Court.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that`s a -- I`d never given that thought, Roe, and that`s why you`re where you are. You can ask those penetrating questions.
CONN: I think it`s something that America needs to know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CONN: Bowlers, they`re not really known for their glamour, their style, or their soft, creamy skin. Actually, bowlers aren`t really known for anything except wearing rented shoes. But that`s about to change. Maybe all the sport really needed was a woman`s touch.
GLENN BECK, HOST(voice-over): Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Jackie Robinson, all great Americans, famous for breaking down barriers, and now, another great American is breaking down yet another barrier, ten pins at a time. Her name, Kelly Kulick. Her game, bowling. No, really, bowling.
After bowling 45 games over five days, including a perfect game on her final outing, Kelly made the final cut, becoming the first woman ever to earn a spot on the men`s pro bowlers tour. Starting this fall, she`ll be taking her turn against the best of the best. But Kelly`s not worried about her all male competition. In fact, she`s proud of it.
KELLY KULICK, PRO BOWLER: It`s an empowering feeling that I bowled the best. I beat a guy next to me, and you know, maybe I do belong out here; maybe I can beat them on a daily basis
BECK: She trains at this state of the heart training facility located in the heart of the Garden State, Jersey Lanes.
Let`s face it. Bowling really doesn`t have the fan base of NASCAR nor the endorsements of golf, and it`s tough to name many -- well, actually, even one millionaire bowler. In fact, pro bowling`s top prizes usually top off at around $100,000.
And since Kelly is a realist, she spends most of her time working at her dad`s auto body shop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kelly works at the office. She works -- helps with the cars, you know, fix them. She does everything.
BECK: That`s right. When she`s not throwing strikes, she`s buffing out dents.
KULICK: Just the preparation of going -- of painting a car, sanding it, priming it, making sure it`s clean and taped properly, the same with a bowling ball, standing at the surface, polishing, making sure it`s the correct polish for the right surface of the lane, tape detailing of the thumb holes and finger holes, there`s a lot of similarities between bowling and body shop work.
BECK: Only now she pauses for an occasional autograph.
KULICK: There it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, Frankie, you`re good.
KULICK: There you go, Frank. No problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.
KULICK: All right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
KULICK: You got it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got it.
BECK: The youngest of three daughters and self-described tomboy, Kelly has been bowling since she was about the height of a pin, but bowling wasn`t her first love.
KULICK: The WNBA wasn`t available when I was in high school. I really loved basketball at the time, but bowling was something that was offered to me, and I was good at it. I went to college and bowled in college, and when I knew that I could play with the women I wanted to be out there full time.
BECK: And even though bowlers aren`t always thought of as your traditional athletes, Kelly wants people to know this is actually a very physically grueling sport.
KULICK: I always tell people to live a day in my shoes. Think about it: 14 games in one day, you know, over eight hours time, plus trying to find time to eat in the middle. It`s really a strenuous workout you have to do, so I would say, you know, live a day in my shoes. We really are athletes. All the stories about beer drinking and hamburger eating, some of them, you know, some people go their own route, but we really have to be fine tuned machines in order to perform our best.
BECK: And just like all athletes, she`s trying to perfect her technique between interviews.
Despite all the pressure of joining the men`s tour, Kelly`s main worry is still how is all the work going to get done.
KULICK: It usually piles up. I mean, these are our files, all the cars that we have in right now, Hertz cars and other cars. My little pile in this corner is things that I have to address but over time.
BECK: And as for her place in annals of bowling history, Kelly`s pretty much taking it in stride, though there is one thing about the sport she`d like to change.
KULICK: I really hope that maybe a woman`s line of clothing will come out. Just like NASCAR they tend to gear more toward the female fans now with the V-neck shirts. I hope that, since a lot more people in the audience are going to be women and children, especially young girls, that this definitely feminizes it in a way and there`s more things to offer for the girls.
BECK: No matter what the future holds, Kelly knows she`ll never stray too far from her hometown. Her family is what keeps her grounded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s just overwhelming. I don`t know what to say, you know. It`s unreal. It`s just phenomenal.
BECK: Something tells me Kelly`s fan base is about to stretch much further than the folks at Jersey Lanes.
CONN: Fred Shreyer is the CEO and commissioner of the Professional Bowlers Association. Mr. Commissioner, how do you feel about Kelly being the first woman to make the cut?
FRED SHREYER, PROFESSIONAL BOWLERS ASSOCIATION: Really excited to have her. She`s earned it, and I think she`ll have a great influence on the tour.
CONN: Now, is she going to draw attention like Danika Patrick did to NASCAR?
SHREYER: I think she will. I think there`s a fascination with women competing in men`s sports today, and she`s very articulate, very well spoken. And I think she`s going to definitely draw a lot of attention.
CONN: You said something there that caught my ear: sport. A lot of people don`t see bowlers as athletes. Is that fair, unfair? Where do you stand on this, Commissioner?
SHREYER: Well, I think they`re definitely athletes. As Kelly said in the piece, it`s physically very grueling. I mean, they bowl up to 21 games a day, throwing a 15-, 16-pound ball down the lane. And you`ve got to be in great shape. You need legs. You need -- you need conditioning and stamina. It`s pretty grueling.
CONN: Actually, you need a steroid scandal, I think is what you need. That`s going to draw a lot of attention to the sport, sort of big beefy, you know, sort of thing.
SHREYER: We`re working on that right now.
CONN: Now you know, when we were growing up bowling was a huge Saturday afternoon TV sport. It doesn`t really have the big national contract any more, right? Isn`t that one of the issues?
SHREYER: Right. We`re on ESPN on Sundays.
CONN: That`s the competition. We never talk about them.
Now, obviously NASCAR -- there was, actually, at one point they were talking about it being sort of like a NASCAR marketing push for bowling. That hasn`t yet materialized?
SHREYER: Well, our viewership is good. Our appeal to the fan base is strong. We`re a very, you know, highly rated show. Obviously, we don`t have anywhere near NASCAR`s attention or publicity at this point, but we appeal to much the same audience.
CONN: Do you think you`ll actually find women watching because you`ve got a woman bowler?
SHREYER: I think it will definitely contribute. We have a fairly significant woman`s audience anyway, but I think Kelly`s involvement certainly should bring new women viewers to the show.
CONN: It`s the fashion, right? That`s what drawing the women to bowling?
SHREYER: They love the bowling shirts. You`re right; they can`t get enough of it.
CONN: All right. Mr. Commissioner, thank you so much nor being with us.
SHREYER: My pleasure, Roe, good to be here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Later, on GLENN BECK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... You just focus on your plate. You don`t worry about anybody else. Ideally, that`s what I go for, is that centered ability to block everything out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CONN: Now it`s time for the segment where we check in with radio talk hosts from around the country. This is usually when I`m talking to Glenn. Today, we`re talking to Dave Glover from KFTK 97.1 FM in St. Louis, Missouri.
And, Dave, I think we`re going to talk about fireworks safety tips, aren`t we?
DAVE GLOVER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I`m the perfect guy for that, Roe, the perfect guy.
CONN: All right. Now actually, there`s been a lot of studies -- every Fourth of July we go through this where they show us the videotapes of people`s hands being blown off and kids. Kids shouldn`t light sparklers with their eyeball and all that sort of stuff. Still popular with the kids, these fireworks?
GLOVER: They`re popular with my son. We usually went out and bought my fireworks. Isn`t it amazing how much things change from one generation? I think I was an adult before I saw fireworks being fired into the sky. Every firework I ever saw as a child was fired at me. We would actually have bottle rockets and Roman candle fights.
CONN: I don`t know if you did that kind of thing in Chicago. Have you lost a body part, fingers, toes, eyeball, anything like that?
CONN: Not from that. I have lost a body part. Thank God, not from fireworks.
GLOVER: I thought about it, driving over here. They say it`s always fun until someone loses an eye. I swear to God, fifth grade, Fatty Anderson lost an eye July 4. The next year the only change was he was easier to hit. No depth perception.
CONN: Especially from the left side, right? You could sneak up on the guy. Never saw it coming. You don`t want that on your team.
CONN: Now, you know, every year, this is a very important. Every year hospitals treat thousands of firework related injuries. Now, what are we going to do this year to prevent kids from getting injured, Dave?
GLOVER: Yes, you know, it`s pretty much a given. I don`t care what you say about July Fourth, independence, grandma and apple pie. You`re still lighting gun powder and holding it in your hand. Not a smart thing to do.
So again, my parents, you know, they were like, "There goes Anderson. Hit him. He`s blind." Whereas myself, you know, we`re going to light snakes and sparklers and we`re going to do it, like, behind a lead wall. So we`ve changed a lot, I think, from our parents, our parents, their style.
CONN: Now when you were getting hit with fireworks did it hurt? Did you catch fire?
GLOVER: Oh, yes. Absolutely.
CONN: Do you roll on the ground? What do you do in a situation like that?
GLOVER: It was like "Lord of the Flies" where I grew up. We would play army, and then the guys would be like, "Oh, you didn`t hit me." So we`d get pellet guns. We would actually shoot each other.
CONN: All right. Now, did you ever come home on fire? And your mom was like, "All right, Dave, that`s it. No dinner for you. That is the sixth time this week you`ve come home on fire."
GLOVER: Again, yes, but not from fireworks, so, you know. I still come home on fire sometimes.
CONN: In Missouri are they -- because, you know, like, in Illinois they`re legal. Indiana they`re legal. So we would just go right across the border. How about Missouri?
GLOVER: I think in Missouri they`re not -- they`re mandatory. I think in Missouri they`ll actually drive the streets and they`ll say, "Hey, where are the roman candles?"
You`re like, "Sorry." You pull them out and you start lighting them. Yes, Missouri there`s not a whole lot that`s illegal -- that`s illegal in Missouri.
CONN: That`s what I love about the state. The Ozarks especially, right? Down there, actually, all the kids come home from dinner on fire, I believe. Isn`t that how that works?
GLOVER: Pretty much, man. There`s not a whole lot that we frown on here in Missouri, other than free thought, but that`s a whole different thing.
CONN: All right. So actually, do they have a law about how old the kids have to be in Missouri? Because you know, the legal department, they`re going to want us to say, "Oh, no, kids should -- no, no, no."
GLOVER: Right. I think you have to at least be able to stand on your own. I think it`s two. If you`re two, you can set off fireworks in Missouri. I`m pretty sure that`s still the law. That changed in the 1800s at some point, something about Indians. I don`t know.
CONN: Dave, thanks very much, man.
GLOVER: Thanks, pal. Good to talk to you, Roe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CALLER: Are you going to wear lime green with the purple tie, you know, when you do the show? Because I think Glenn was wearing a lime green shirt with a purple tie.
CONN: Yes, he was dressed as Barney.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe something pink with a little green --
CONN: Alice, let me ask you a question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah?
CONN: Are you a stalker?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?
CONN: I`m just wondering. It`s a little too much attention to Glenn. Right now if I`m Glenn, I`m going out to my front yard and making sure that there`s not a rabbit in a pot boiling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CONN: Glenn celebrates the Fourth of July with some huge pool party to which I`m not invited. In Chicago, where I live, we celebrate with backyard barbecues, a hot air balloon launch, and fireworks on the Navy pier.
Here in New York, they do things like this. Yes, out on Coney Island tomorrow, it`s Nathan`s Annual Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest. And yes, that Japanese kid, he is hoping to gorge his way to his sixth straight title. Last year, he wolfed down 49 dogs and it all went into a 5`5" body, Still, short of his own record though, from the year before, 53.
OK, now there`s actually a professional sports league for people who stuff themselves with hot dogs, baked beans and cow brains. It`s the IFOCE, the International Federation of Competitive Eating. Ryan Nerz has spent a year following around these athletes for your cleverly titled, "Eat This Book".
Kobayashi is the Japanese kid, is he going to take it all again this year?
RYAN NERZ, AUTHOR, "EAT THIS BOOK": Yes, I think Kobayashi is probably going to take it this year. You`ve got to think he`s going to take it every year. He`s the best eater alive, certainly in my opinion the best athlete alive. But this year we have a guy named Joey Jaws Chestnut.
CONN: Oh, sure, Jaws.
NERZ: You know, Jaws.
CONN: Absolutely, yeah.
NERZ: He ate 50 in a qualifier, so this might be the first year where we bring back the Mustard Yellow International Belt to American shores.
CONN: Let me ask you something, Ryan. Do you really want to show off like that with 50 in the prelims? Is that showboating, do you think?
NERZ: Yeah, I see what you`re saying. It is a little bit of showboating, but that`s what we`re looking for. We`re looking for some upstart to come and beat the master at his own game, to take Kobayashi and bring back the Mustard Yellow Belt. And I think Joey can do it.
CONN: What possibly could motivate people to do this?
NERZ: Oh, I think there`s a lot of reasons. Obviously, it`s a sport, just like any other sport at this point. We`re on ESPN on the Fourth of July. These guys train. That is what Kobayashi brought to the game. He trains, he gains weight before the contest. He gains 40 pounds two months prior to the contest, then he loses the weight, and he makes $200,000 a year in Japan
CONN: Is that because ESPN couldn`t get curling on the Fourth of July? Is that why they put this on?
NERZ: I see what you`re saying, but competitive eating, curling, paint ball?
CONN: I know. You don`t have to tell me, I`m converted already. Listen, I`m a true believer. Do they have to do something? Is there some sort of technique to this? You know the question I`m kind of going for here?
NERZ: Of course. Yeah, I mean, you know, with hot dogs, Japanesing became a technique in the mid `90s. A guy name Hirofumi Nakajima came and separated dog from bun. That was a revolutionary technique. Counter logic to of what we do in barbecues. He actually dunked the bun in the water and would put that kind of bun detritus into his mouth. And that became a big technique and now all of the guys separate dog from bun, some of guys do a Solomon method, where they break dog in half.
CONN: Oh, sure, the Solomon.
NERZ: Of course, you know the Solomon method.
CONN: That`s controversial, though, the Solomon. Very controversial.
NERZ: Very controversial. In fact, there`s been a lot of people who harken back and want a traditional, just eat the hot dog and bun together, the way we eat them at home. And it`s been very controversial, because thee guys dunk and there`s all this bun in the water at the end of the contest and you don`t know whether to count the bun against them. And it`s been very controversial.
CONN: Ryan, are women finally finding their way into this sport?
NERZ: Yeah, you know, we`ve had some trouble capturing the older female demographic, but we thought maybe we`d do some sort of cold soup competition, like gazpacho. But we do have, finally -- there she is -- Sonia Thomas, AKA, the Black Widow, the 100- pound wonder of the world. She ate 46 dozen oysters in 10 minutes, 65 hardboiled eggs in six minutes and 46 seconds. She is just a phenomenal, I mean, she is basically a cross between Anna Kournikova and a jackal loose on the Serengeti.
CONN: Yeah, she`s (UNINTELLIGIBLE): Ryan, thanks very much.
NERZ: Thank you.
Crazy Legs Conti is a living legend in the world of professional eating, you can follow his journey from fascinated fan to gladiator of gluttony in his documentary, "Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating." Here`s what happened when he met his idol, Japanese guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRAZY LEGS CONTI, PROFESSIONAL EATER: I asked him about swallowing and chewing. As I started to ask him a little more about the technique he feigned like he didn`t understand.
There was no comprehension. I think he was stonewalling me. I think he`s keeping the secret.
I`m at the door with him, but I can`t find the invitation.
I was just in the presence of greatness. I was just in honored to shake his hand. I`m trying to follow into his foot steps, you know, the new breed of competitive eater.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CONN: Joining me here in the studio, right here, the man, the myth, the legend, Crazy Legs -- I`ve just knot to shake your hand.
CONTI: Well, thank you for having me.
CONN: This is incredible. So, now what is your record with hot dogs?
CONTI: My personal best is 22 hot dogs and buns. Kobayashi`s personal best is 53 and a half.
CONN: So, really, I don`t know. Can you do it?
CONTI: He`s simply the greatest athlete in the history of sport. So it is just an honor to be at the table eating with him?
CONN: Some people would say Jordan, Ali. There are other names that come to mind?
CONTI: Those are kind of rank amateurs, I think compared to Kobayashi. Although this year there are some American eaters who could possibly challenge him for the bejeweled Yellow Mustard Belt.
CONN: Now, I want you to notice, we have an EMT standing right here, in case one of us should die during this competition. Have you seen people die?
CONTI: No, actually, the International Federation of Competitive Eating, which is the IFOC, the only governing body of all stomach centric sports, safety is paramount. These are pro athletes up there. Nothing`s going to go wrong.
CONN: Sure, safety first. I totally understand. How are you preparing yourself for the big thing tomorrow at Coney Island?
CONTI: Well, generally, I`m going to be riding in on the bus of champions. And with the Pantheon of great eaters, it`s already an event that for most people it`s the most important sporting event of the year. I believe the secret is sort of mind over stomach matter, that`s the Zen method. And Kobayashi, and Sonia, The Whacker Thomas, and Joey Jaws Chestnut, they`ve found a way to process food better than any humans in history.
CONN: Why aren`t you fat?
CONTI: I am a cross-disciplined athlete. This year I ate 25 hot dogs and buns in 13 minutes, there was a grueling one minute overtime. And the next day I ran the Boston Marathon.
CONN: Let`s do this. A little warm up for you. We`re going to do 30 seconds. We`re going to see how many you can down in 30 seconds. I may join you here -- not really, a chance.
Why don`t we get started. And go. There`s one for sure.
He`s got this thing with the water, and it`s kind of controversial. That was a full Solomon right there. He cut that in right in half. That`s incredible. Are you watching this? Are you getting all of this?
If he drops, you`re going to start doing the whole deal, right? Is that it? OK. All right. Keep -- what are we up to? Are you keeping count? No?
The man`s not keeping count. OK. I`ve got to tell you something, Crazy Legs, I`ve really never seen anything like that. I`m ready to vomit just watching you. You are an inspiration. Swallow! Wait, hold on, I think the man -- are you OK?
CONTI: Yeah, I`m fine.
We don`t use the V term, we call it urges contrary to swallowing. Obviously, that is disallowed in competition. There is an eater, Dale the Mouse, from South Boone, (INAUDIBLE) specialist. You don`t want to be in the front row at a contest he`s eating at.
CONN: You`re right, I don`t. Crazy legs, thank you.
Time now to go straight to Hill, Erica Hill, the anchor of Prime News on Headline News.
Happy day before Independence Day, Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: And right back at you. How`s it going for you today?
HILL: Good. You`re doing a fine job. I want you to know that.
CONN: I don`t believe you, but thank you very much. Very nice of you to say.
HILL: Well, I`m just here to make you feel good.
All right, in honor of the country`s birthday, which is of course tomorrow, a little help for folks who might want to buy American. You know, these days an American car can actually be made up of parts from around the world. So how can you tell if yours truly is American? Well, try the cars.com American made index.
It rates vehicles put together and bought in the U.S. All the models have to be made up of at least 75 percent of domestic parts. There you see on your screen, topping the list the Ford F-Series, Chevy Silverado, Toyota Camry and the Camry Solara, and the Ford E-Series.
You might be a little surprised to see the Toyota on there, huh?
CONN: I`m shocked. I was thinking, Toyota, Japanese name, not going to work.
HILL: Made in the USA. There you go.
CONN: Very good. I feel good about myself.
HILL: Oh, good, I`m glad. Whatever we can do to help.
Well, no matter what you`re driving, it turns out, if you`re hitting the road this weekend, you`re not alone. Some 40 million Americans driving over the July 4th holiday. And no surprise, not cheap to travel these days. Gas prices up 66 percent in just the past year.
CONN: I had not heard that? When did that happen?
HILL: It`s kind of a new story. Those figures, from AAA, I should point out, but you know, over the last few months gas has slowly been rising. You may have heard, you know, a little here and there.
CONN: I`ve got to read a newspaper, I think. I had not heard anything about this.
HILL: You could try the Internet, maybe. Or, hey, you know what? Tune into Headline News. Always good, right?
CONN: That`s an excellent suggestion, by the way. That was good.
HILL: Well, you know, I do what I can.
The average cost, by the way, for a gallon of gas, $2.87 now. But even with all those high prices the Energy Department is saying America`s daily gas demand was at its highest ever in June. So we`re still driving.
CONN: All right. Thanks, Erica.
HILL: Thanks, Roe.
CONN: If you don`t feel like leaving your backyard to see "Superman Returns", don`t worry. It will be around, like, all summer. Besides Clark Kent has some serious competition coming this Wednesday from Captain Jack Sparo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come to join me crew, lad? Welcome aboard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m here to find the man I love.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m deeply flattered, son, but my first and only loving is the sea.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meaning William Turner, Captain Sparo.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Elizabeth -- hide the rum.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CONN: OK, blockbuster sequels I understand, but another couple of coming attractions, I`m not so sure about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
I`ve had it with you snakes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CONN: I`ve been on that flight. Gitesh Pandya, Boxoffice guru.com, Samuel L. Jackson that desperate for a paycheck?
GITESH PANDYA, BOXOFFICEGURU.COM: Sam Jackson, he`s back. He`s going to have one of the surprise hits of the late summer in "Snakes on a Plane". I mean, there`s no cooler actor than Sam Jackson. I mean, this is the man --
CONN: Wait, Gitesh, you`re telling me that that`s the name of the movie "Snakes on a Plane" and it`s about snakes on a plane.
PANDYA: If you can believe it, it`s about snakes, and they`re on a plane. This movie is very, very much to the point. You know exactly what it is.
Let me tell you there`s a ton of Internet buzz going on all year, fans are making their own trailers with their own camcorders, and just lobbying the studio to add more violence and more language. And guess what? The studio actually did it. It`s now going to be rated R instead of GP-13. That`s what the fans want and it will be big at the end of the summer.
CONN: So, OK, just walk me through this for a second. There was like a screen writer in LA, who was like on acid. And he had this trip, and it was like, you know, dude it would be so cool to do like a thing about snakes on a plane. And there was a big studio that said, you know what, Samuel L. Jackson would be perfect for that.
Is that how that worked?
PANDYA: You know, I take this over a "Bewitched" remake myself. I think a lot of other people will, too. If that`s the idea, let`s go with it.
CONN: I think that`s probably true.
All right. "Superman"? Did you like it? This is an actor that really nobody has ever heard of, and he`s got the most coveted role in Hollywood right now.
PANDYA: Right. This is one of the most expensive movies of all time, "Superman Returns". I thought Brandon Routh did a very good job. I`d love to see him again as Superman. I didn`t think Kevin Spacey was all that great. I think he was too much Kevin Spacey, not enough Lex Luther. And Kate Bosworth, she was so-so, I didn`t believe her as the mother of a five- year-old son. But otherwise, this is the big superhero film. But as you mentioned before, "Pirates of the Caribbean" is on its way and that`s going to knock "Superman" out of the number one spot very soon.
CONN: All right, Johnny Depp is coming back as Captain Jack Sparo. Good pirate, good sequel?
PANDYA: Oh, he`s a great pirate. It`s a very fun sequel. I had a chance to see it last week. It opens this coming weekend. The last one, in 2003, was a huge blockbuster, grossing over $650 million worldwide and getting Depp an Oscar nomination for best actor.
So, you can imagine, they went right back in there to make two sequels, this one and the third comes out Memorial Day weekend 2007.
In this film, Orlando Bloom is back, Kiera Knightly is back. And Captain Jack Sparo is out to get a new treasure chest and needs another adventure. It`s a fun movie. A little too long, but otherwise a fun movie and Johnny Depp is great.
CONN: There`s a movie about a sea nymph that is being billed as a bedtime story. Now, I know I`ve rented this in hotel rooms, but it`s now coming to a big screen?
PANDYA: Yes, this is the big budget version without the awful music in the background. This is a M. Night Shyamalan`s latest supernatural thriller, it`s called "Lady in the Water". It`s about a sea nymph, also known as a narf, as they call it. And it`s a mysterious woman, kind of a mermaid, kind of not. That is found in this building. Paul Giamatti plays the landlord. And he`s trying to get her back into her mysterious world, falls in love with her in the process, obviously.
Bryce Dallas Howard, who was in Shyamalan`s last film, "The Village", is back here again. And it`s going to be one of those creepy, spooky movies for late summer. It opens on July 21st.
CONN: That`s Ron Howard`s kid, right?
PANDYA: Ron Howard`s daughter, becoming a big star.
CONN: That`s going to be big.
OK, Gitesh, thanks so much.
PANDYA: Thank you.
CONN: Time for today`s "Quality of Life" market update. Vladimir Putin futures are taking a tumble after a highly peculiar public display of affection by the Russian president. Yes, while taking a stroll through the Kremlin, because he does that. Putty Put, in a spontaneous gesture of Glasnost, decided to get to know one of his constituents just a little bit better than the others. Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
There he is. Cute kid, right. Look! Oh. You know what. Michael Jackson had to leave the country for doing that. This guy, he`s a world leader. Let`s take a look at this again. Honest to God if Michael Jackson is watching this in Dubai, turn your TV off right now. You don`t want to see this. It`s going to break your heart. Then he goes in for the kill. Right here, this is like, this is -- oh, my god. This may be the sickest thing I`ve ever seen a world leader do.
All right. That`s beautiful. That`s a weird custom.
If you like to talk on your cell phone while driving your stock is stumbling, thanks to a new study that says driving while chatting is just as dangerous as driving drunk. Now, a study out of Utah, of course, monitored 40 drivers on a simulated 24-mile course.
First the subjects drove the course while gabbing away on their cell phones and then they drove the same course downing a mixture of orange juice and vodka. I think the scientific term for that is screwdriver. The results, both are equally as dangerous. The study shows there were three cell phone related accidents compared to no drunk driving mishaps. How about that?
Now, in a related story, Korean cell phone giant, LG, soon will be introducing a phone to the U.S. that doubles as a breathalyzer. The LGLP 4100 will be equipped with an alcohol measurement sensor, so you can blow into it and check your own alcohol level. The phone is already a huge hit in Korea. Young Koreans bringing these phones to the bars, seeing how drunk they can get. See? Great drinking game, isn`t it?
Another cool feature is you can actually automatically set it so that you will not dial out certain numbers while you`re drinking. That`s called a DWI, dialing while intoxicated, drunk dialing. Done it. Thing of the past.
All right, pirate paraphernalia market is rising sharply on news that American consumers will soon be subjected to a virtual avalanche of Jack Sparo related merchandise. With the release of "Pirates of the Caribbean 2", just around the corner, Disney lawyers are working their fingers to the bone, and I live them, to trademark all his images and make sure that there are no infractions.
Now, according to "LA Weekly" Disney has registered the trademarks to several Jack Sparo related merchandise tie-ins. Let`s take a look at the list. It`s a short list.
Mayonnaise is on here. Pancake syrup, frozen meals, consisting primarily of meat. Bowling balls, bowling balls, badminton sets. That`s what a self-respecting pirate needs, is a badminton set. Leg warmers, barbecue mitts, doilies.
CONN: Well, here we are on an Independence Day Eve, and I couldn`t be more excited. But like April Fool`s Day and Halloween, we tend to forget the true meaning of the holiday.
Now, earlier today I asked our staff members to try to explain the significance behind the Fourth of July, to me. As sad as it is, only a couple of them got it right. And one guy, and I`ll only use his initials so I don`t embarrass him, Paul Stark, told me he thought it was the almost two month anniversary of Cinco de Mayo. Now, Paul is Canadian, so I`ll give him a pass.
But what about all of the Americans who have no clue? We all spend so much time worrying about illegal immigrants not knowing our language, our history, but we`ve got all these legal citizens who don`t know it either. And that`s a shame. After all, is it really so hard to learn that this great holiday celebrates the day that the Pilgrims sailed here, saved the Alamo, and then took the groundhog out of it`s cage to see it`s shadow? Is it?
What is even worse is that not knowing the history of the Fourth is, well, no one knows the amazing story behind the most enduring traditions, like fireworks, for example. These days fireworks just provide nighttime amusement and occasionally really funny home videos, but they`re actually deeply symbolic.
Most people know the grand finale of fireworks display honors the big bang that started our universe. Most people don`t know the symbolism behind the smaller fireworks, like sparklers. They were originally developed to honor the Pilgrims brutal fight against Mexican war lords. See, in those days guns and bombs weren`t around. It was pitchforks and rocks. At night in the heat of the battle, their eyes would light up, small bursts of sparks as rock met rock, and metal scrapped metal.
Roman candles, I mean, more illustrious history during the late 1920s, U.S. fought for independence from the Holy Roman Empire. You all recall that. And we made candles out of bee`s wax, lined a runway, so our planes could land safely in the dark and the Holy Roman Empire planes crashed helplessly into the sea.
So, tomorrow night as kids revel in the distant glow of exploding fireworks, pull them aside to remind them about the rocks and pitch forks, the big bang, Pilgrims, Holy Roman Empire, and of course, the ground hog.
That`s it for tonight. Remember, if you need a Glenn Beck fix, over the long, long weekend download a pod cast. They`re available at I-tunes and CNN.com
I`m Roe Conn, have a great happy and safe Fourth of July.