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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Lou Dobbs Interview; Robert Redford Interview
Aired November 6, 2007 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight -- outspoken.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": This is crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: We're in a hell of a mess in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: CNN's own Lou Dobbs.
He says the United States is way off course and the outcome of Election 2008 could be a make or break for the country's survival.
What does he think you should do?
And then a rare interview with movie icon Robert Redford. The legendary superstar weighs in on Tom Cruise, his green causes and his controversial new movie that some say is anti-American.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "LIONS FOR LAMBS," COURTESY UNITED ARTISTS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes or no?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Robert Redford later.
We kick things off with Lou Dobbs, the anchor and managing editor of CNN'S LOU DOBBS TONIGHT.
He's a "New York Times" best-selling author.
His newest book is "Independents Day: The Awakening of the American Spirit." It is just published and is a follow-up to "War On the Middle Class," which was a major best-seller. By the way, if you don't know it by now, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" has moved to prime time on CNN. You can now see it at 7:00 p.m. Eastern -- a different hour, the same thought provoking show.
You've been called -- or you call yourself an Independent populist.
KING: What is that?
DOBBS: An Independent populist is, as you would -- might guess, is somebody who is not interested in being a partisan, either a Republican or Democrat, but rather an independent thinker, applying critical judgment and putting an emphasis on, frankly, our national values that made this country so great...
DOBBS: As an Independent. As a populist, one who is concerned about the people, rather than -- it's -- the opposite of a populist, of course, is an elitist. And I've had a belly full of the elites because they're -- they're leading this country into perdition.
KING: For a long time, were you a party follower?
DOBBS: Oh, absolutely. When I was a younger fellow, I was quite liberal. I worked, as a matter of fact, on the war on poverty. I worked on urban poverty, primarily, trying to help as best I could. As I grew older, I became a Republican and somewhat -- certainly a fiscal conservative, a Rockefeller Republican. And then a few years ago, I said enough is enough. When you listen to what's happening on Capitol Hill and the White House, and you can call yourself a Republican or a Democrat, as I've said -- and I say in this book, you know, both Republicans and Democrats, those are two parties that are just opposite wings of the same bird. And the bird is what the American people are getting.
KING: "60 Minutes" profiled you and Lesley Stahl described you as mad as hell and an anti-establishmentarian.
DOBBS: Am I mad as hell?
I'm frustrated as hell.
Am I anti-establishment?
No. I'm free enterprise. I believe in our free enterprise democracy. I am a capitalist. I just don't believe in unfettered capitalism. I don't believe in giving rich people the dominant control and corporations dominant control of our political system, our electoral system, our legislative system -- which is what they have today. There's got to be countervailing influences. This is a nation -- our constitution, Larry, as you know, is a radical populist document, as I try to say.
KING: It sure is.
DOBBS: It begins with the words "We, the people..." And, by God, it's time for us to reclaim this government and this country.
KING: We've got a King Cam question about a topic you've been very outspoken on.
Let's watch and get your response.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you think about immigration officials or granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants?
DOBBS: Well, I've had the distinction of being in a bit of a contest with Eliot Spitzer, as you know, here -- the New York governor, who's called for driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. I've said the man is a complete idiot. It's irresponsible policy...
KING: You don't think he's an idiot, do you?
DOBBS: Well, I...
KING: Eliot Spitzer.
DOBBS: In terms of his I.Q., no. In terms of his policy and his popular conduct as a governor and in terms of his responsibility to the citizens of this state, he's an -- it's idiotic what he's pursuing.
No, he's a rich, spoiled brat who's grown up to be given a governor's office and is behaving irresponsibly.
KING: Did you think he was a good attorney general?
DOBBS: I thought he was an outstanding attorney general. He accomplished some great things. And he has managed to destroy every part of his achievements by his conduct.
KING: Let me take the other viewpoint and then you respond.
KING: All right. If I'm driving down the street and I'm coming up on a yield right of way...
KING: And another car is coming toward that yield right of way.
KING: Would I be -- feel better if that person coming to the yield right of way was licensed, and, therefore, passed all of his tests and knew what the direction was or unlicensed -- an illegal immigrant who didn't know what a legal right of way was?
DOBBS: You're the one who will to have to answer the question, because what we have found in states like Tennessee and North Carolina was they put through driver's licenses for illegal aliens and differentiated, in one case, from regular citizens' driver's license. They -- on the assumption that they would be insured and that it would drive down the cost of insurance.
What they found, and the reason they've rescinded those driver's licenses, primarily, is because -- well, for a number of reasons. One, massive fraud by illegal aliens in their states. But the other, because insurance costs rose. They didn't decline. It's a fiction perpetrated by an amnesty crowd who wants to have de facto citizenship for 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens.
KING: Since they're here and it's a fact and you're not going to deport millions of them, why do you not want them licensed?
DOBBS: Why do you...
DOBBS: Why do you...
KING: In other words, you'd rather have them not tested?
DOBBS: Well, a couple of issues.
KING: Why not?
DOBBS: One is, why do you assume that you would have any better validation of their documents, their name, their address, their residence and their financial responsibility given the fact they have lied and have, in most cases -- in most cases, taken a false identity.
KING: I just want them to pass the test.
DOBBS: You want them to pass a test?
KING: I want to know that that guy on the street knows what the illegal right is -- what an illegal right turn is.
DOBBS: And you -- and that will satisfy you?
KING: It'll make me feel a lot better than if he had no test.
KING: He's still going to drive.
DOBBS: Well, here. If you want him to have a driver's license, why not get an international driver's license? Because that's what an American does in Mexico. That's what an American does in Europe, or a European coming to this country -- get an international driver's license.
What is the purpose of an American driver's license?
It's de facto citizenship. In the State of New York, we're watching this governor try to open the way clear for massive voter fraud. That's only part of the issue here, Larry. And it's one of the things -- people are too smart for this. You know, this nonsense -- the politics that is being perpetrated by this governor -- and, by the way, other governors and other elected officials...
KING: He's elected only (ph).
DOBBS: ...across the country. They're trying to establish voter fraud, where all a person has to do is walk in and check a box and say I'm a U.S. citizen, present their driver's license and they can vote -- period. And no one is checking that, as a matter of fact. And we have reported on it extensively here. It is absolutely hazardous public policy. It is irresponsible. And 70 -- the most recent poll is the Rasmussen Report -- a "Washington Times" report -- 77 percent of Americans nationwide...
KING: Against it, yes.
DOBBS: ...are opposed to it. Seventy-two percent of New Yorkers are opposed to it.
KING: Lou Dobbs is our guest.
The book is "Independents Day". We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: This country is being run by a bunch of free market idiots right now.
An energy policy for this country that is non-existent.
Your profits don't really mean a damn thing to us.
The nonsense that this governor has been pedaling -- and he's been pedaling it by the bucket.
You're a fool, sir. It's balderdash. And there's nothing complicated about it.
And that's crazy, in my humble opinion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: The whole bunch of them haven't come up with a single original idea.
It scares me that either of these parties would have a significant majority, personally.
A Middle East policy that is a joke.
One of the most intractable and stubborn presidents.
I mean where in the world are we headed?
Does anyone there in Washington honestly expect this to boost their approval rating among the American people?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: One wonders if Lou Dobbs will announce who he's going to vote for because I would -- none of the above.
The book is "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit." There you see its cover.
A "New York Times" editorial slammed you. It said: "Someday, there may be a calm debate in Albany and nationally about immigrant drivers. With Mr. Dobbs at the megaphone, for now there is only histrionics and outrage."
DOBBS: Yes. Well, it's very nice that the governor's house organ, "The New York Times," would take me on like that -- which is not the first time they've done it. But they are -- and then they slammed their governor because when he came back with this sort of silly compromise, with three different kinds of licenses, then the "New York Times," because of its pro-illegal alien amnesty position, had to slam the governor that they have been romancing and supporting.
So I'm delighted to be in the position I am vis-a-vis "The New York Times".
KING: Why did the governor get into this, do you think?
DOBBS: I think, first of all, I think, you know, character -- character is...
KING: Was it a pressing issue at the time?
DOBBS: No, there's not.
DOBBS: But he made some promises to socio-ethnic centric activist groups and he paid it -- and he was paying it off. It was -- it's a case -- a clear case -- and I think this is what concerns most New Yorkers, certainly, Larry, is this governor has shown such immature judgment, brashness and a lack of consideration for public safety, for the very integrity of the voting system and for his responsibility to the citizens he was voted in to serve.
KING: Do you like having become the central focal point of this debate?
I mean it's you.
DOBBS: Illegal immigration?
KING: Yes, you.
DOBBS: I think that I...
KING: You think illegal immigration, you think Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Well, I hope -- you know, I will take that as a compliment.
KING: It's true.
DOBBS: The fact of the matter is I have tried to bring rationality -- despite the accusations of xenophobia, racism, nonsense -- which is the first reflex from the amnesty advocates, corporate America. It's absurd. And to talk about border security -- because I care about the American people.
When I say I'm a populist, I'm a populist all the way. I believe that no one in this country is as smart as all of us. And I don't believe that our system of government should -- we should permit it to be distorted by Republicans and Democrats any further in this partisan nonsense.
We have two basic values in this country. We're founded on those two values -- individual liberty, individual freedom. That is the central value. And equality -- equality of opportunity, economic and educational. And we are letting these partisan fools and corporate America, socio-ethnic centric interests, special interests, group politics drive those values farther and farther from the lives of 300 million Americans.
KING: The former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, was on this show. We talked about you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICENTE FOX, FORMER PRESIDENT OF MEXICO: I'm not claiming for open borders to everybody. What I'm claiming for is a decision -- an intelligent decision with a vision to the future.
KING: Do you know of CNN's Lou Dobbs?
Do you Lou Dobbs?
FOX: Yes. Yes, I know him. Yes.
KING: You know, he is kind of leading a fight against illegal immigration.
Do you take issue with him?
FOX: I'm humble. I would love to have a debate with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Would you debate him?
DOBBS: Well, I told the former president that I would be delighted to. My audience -- I put it before them.
I said do you want me to?
And my audience voted absolutely. I talked to the former president downstairs and I said you name the place, you name the time, I'm there. He said November. He said his ranch, San Cristobal. I said I'm ready.
My people have heard from his people. Apparently, there's a scheduling conflict. I gave him home court advantage, Larry -- the opportunity you provided -- and President Fox is being...
KING: I'll do it here.
DOBBS: Yes. I would hope...
KING: An open offer.
DOBBS: I'll join you in an instant and we'll get Vicente Fox to go mano a mano.
KING: If every illegal alien left this country tomorrow, would we be better off or worse off?
DOBBS: We would be, in my judgment, absolutely better off -- for a number of reasons. But all of the -- all of the elements in the equation, the first issue is securing the border and securing these ports, because we have a responsibility. Our government has a responsibility to protect 300 million Americans.
The issue of immigration -- I have always said, from the beginning of this discussion, that those who would suggest that we can reform immigration law are -- without border security -- are, they are perpetrating fraud. They're attempting to. They no longer can because we worked very hard to enlarge the body of public knowledge.
But I've put forward a syllogism for our good friends in Washington, D.C. -- of both parties -- so that they could comprehend it. I made it very simple -- you cannot reform immigration if you can't control immigration. And you can't immigration if you can't control your own borders and ports. Therefore, anyone -- anyone understands we must secure, on that basis alone, our borders and our ports.
There is a little matter, it seems to me, of being some six years distant from September 11th, with 160,000 of our troops in Iraq, almost 4,000 of them killed, our troops in 40 nations, fighting a global war on terror. And this administration is not secured our borders. And it has not secured our ports. And that's inexcusable. It's unconscionable. And on that basis, border security should be primary.
KING: Robert Redford at the bottom of the hour.
More with Lou Dobbs.
He's now seen at 7:00 p.m. Nightly.
And his new book is "Independents Day".
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: I mean this is a disgusting situation.
A pandering piece of nonsense.
It's irresponsible public policy.
No reaction, no outrage, no anything?
What in the world is this White House thinking about?
Illegal means illegal.
I said idiots again. I didn't mean idiots. I meant -- what's the word tonight, jackass.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Lou Dobbs.
The book, "Independents Day."
How do you assess the election?
DOBBS: I assess the campaign, to this point, for 2008 is -- is a pretty sorry enterprise, to be very candid about it.
KING: On all counts?
DOBBS: Oh, absolutely. When you look at the originality of thinking that the Democratic candidates -- the Republican candidates are putting forward -- there isn't any. We've listened to -- we've watched the spectacle of Senator Clinton waffling on an answer on driver's licenses. Then we gave her considerable time tonight on our broadcast to explain it. And Candy Crowley tried her very best to try to have her clarify her position.
Then we have Senator Edwards and Senator Obama both pursuing her to chastise and chasten her for her waffling and taking up a position that is, again, not in the public interest, in my judgment.
On the Republican side, we have Fred Thompson, who is, you know, a terrific actor, a terrific fellow. We have Rudy Giuliani, a fine mayor. I mean my God -- we have 300 million people in this country. We're the most diverse nation on the face of the Earth. And in 2004, we came up with two fellows from Yale -- both of them sons of privilege, both of them members of Skull and Bones, one a Democrat and a Republican. And there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between them.
KING: None of these candidates impress you?
DOBBS: Not a one. I'll tell you, I believe -- I believe that it's very likely that none of these candidates will emerge as our president a year from this week -- after the election. I truly believe that we may -- and this may be -- it's part of the reason I wrote the book. I believe that there's somebody out there ready to step forward who has the character, the capacity, the originality...
KING: From where?
DOBBS: An Independent, certainly.
KING: Like Bloomberg?
DOBBS: Michael Bloomberg. I don't know who it is. But I'm hoping that that person will have enough concern for this country to step forward and represent the people, to step away from the apparatus of these two political parties -- which are nothing more than branding mechanisms. They are simply fundraising organizations. People who define themselves as liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, in this country -- there is no difference. Both parties are dominated by corporate America and special interests.
KING: A few minutes left.
An e-mail from Susan in Chicago: "How did immigration come to be your primary focus? Are you concerned that your frustration over this issue may overwhelm your broader message?"
DOBBS: My broader message is straightforward, as I said -- preserving the basic national values.
KING: Yes, but do you think immigration...
DOBBS: No. I think it's all part of the public policy test that we -- the contest that we confront. We have a national sovereignty challenge. Our borders are wide open. Illegal immigration represents an absolute abdication of sovereignty and control over our government. We have a dysfunctional federal government, Larry. There's no surprise in that for anyone listening to us and watching us. But we're not doing anything about it. And this country has to deliver that promise in public education -- the great equalizer for our young people. We're failing -- we're failing to educate half of the Hispanics in high school. Half of -- nearly half of the Hispanics in high school are dropping off. Almost half of the black students in the country are dropping out of high school. We have a moral responsibility to provide education. We don't have time for No Child Left Behind.
We don't have time for partisan debates. We don't have time to listen to liberals who want magnet and charter schools and conservatives who want vouchers. The only choice that there should be is to provide a quality public education to every young person in this country.
KING: An e-mail from Laura in Chihuahua, Mexico: "Why don't you ever read letters from viewers who disagree with you on the air?"
DOBBS: They're so -- so...
KING: So few.
DOBBS: So few and so infrequent that I can't even imagine it. There are a few...
KING: You don't have any?
DOBBS: No, we have a few. Very few.
DOBBS: You know, typically, our audience is in general agreement. But if you would like to send us one, we'll be glad to read it.
KING: Are you, therefore -- well, this may be a stupid question.
Are you pessimistic?
DOBBS: I'm not. I'm absolutely...
KING: You're not?
DOBBS: Absolutely not. I couldn't be if this fru -- you know, if I were pessimistic, there would be no reason to be frustrated. There would be no reason to be disgusted with this partisan...
KING: What makes you optimistic?
DOBBS: Because this country has got 200 years of delivering something that no other country ever has. We have succeeded generation after generation. Your generation and mine, Larry, we failed. We have failed to live up to the promises that the preceding generations had fulfilled -- to get better as a nation, to provide a better quality of life.
One third of Americans today surveyed -- only a third -- believe that their children will have a better life than they. That means for two thirds of Americans right now, they doubt that the American dream is a reality. And we've got to restore that. And we've got to find the leaders who will make that dream a reality.
KING: And you say tonight you think that leader will emerge?
DOBBS: I do. I have -- I mean I'm hoping and I truly believe that in the course of the next 12 months, we're going to see a lot of surprises. And I really believe that we're going to be the beneficiary.
KING: We're going to have you back a lot.
DOBBS: It's good to be with you.
Thank you, my friend.
KING: And we can set it up with Mr. Fox right here.
DOBBS: Tell el Jefe that -- as I have already said to him -- any time, any place.
KING: We'll do it.
Lou Dobbs, author of "The New York Times" best-seller, "War On the Middle Class." His new one, "Independents Day: The Awakening of the American Spirit."
And don't forget, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" is now seen at 7:00 p.m. Nightly.
Robert Redford is next.
We'll be right back.
KING: A grit pleasure to welcome a return visit to LARRY KING LIVE for Robert Redford, the actor and Oscar winning director.
He's the director and producer and the co-star of a new film, Lions for Lambs," which opens nationwide this Friday, November 9th.
The first film you've directed in seven years.
Why this film?
ROBERT REDFORD, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: It touched me in a way that inspired me. It wasn't like I was sleeping for seven years. I was doing other things -- like having a life, developing another project about Jackie Robinson and Branch Ricky I'm pretty excited about.
This came kind of out of the blue. But when it came, my first thought was, ooh, you know, you've got talking heads in offices. I don't know about that. And then I looked at it quickly again the second time. And there was a trip -- three stories that could be woven into one point of view.
And what got me, what -- and it got me fast -- was here's a chance to have a broader look. It's not an anti-war film. It's not a film about the Iraq War -- although it touches on the military's involvement in the Middle East. It is still a look at three specific areas in our society, professional areas and how - what has happened to those areas and therefore the country in the last several years.
KING: And all sides are presented.
REDFORD: All sides are presented.
I'm not big on agitpropaganda in film despite what ...
KING: Although some people call the movie a polemic. Cruise ...
REDFORD: People who haven't seen it, yeah.
KING: Cruise presents a definitive side.
REDFORD: Well, he does and I'll tell you, that I don't think those films really work, just straight up agitpropaganda. I think we're more complicated than that. I think the idea of us being so polarized right now, red and blue, black against white and us against them, that - to have us categorized that way is demeaning and there is a lot of gray area out there.
And so Cruise's character, to be credible, everybody had to have a point of view and ...
KING: Is this Cruise's company?
REDFORD: Partly, yeah.
KING: Explain the title.
REDFORD: "Lions for Lambs."
Supposedly there was a German officer who was speaking on behalf of the German soldiers, which they called grunts and they were talking about how the German soldiers admired the English grunts. Their bravery and their nobility. About as much as they laughed at their superiors who wasted their lives by the hundreds of thousands.
And he says, "Never have I seen such lions led by such lambs." And of course the idea is that that could be applied to the situation our country is in today.
KING: Why was it, Bob, hard to get made.
REDFORD: I'm sorry.
KING: Was it hard to get made?
REDFORD: Not this one ...
KING: Even when you had three major stars.
REDFORD: Maybe that had something to do with it. I think probably Tom's relationship with the new company had something to do with it. I think that the fact that Meryl and I had spoken and said, look, depending on a meeting with a writer, let's do this. Because it's covering a broader look at our country which basically is what's interesting to me. American life and not just politics. There's sport, there's entertainment.
KING: You say it isn't antiwar but "Variety" described it as "back-bendingly liberal, but also deeply patriotic." Is that contradiction?
REDFORD: No. It's just wrong. It's just a wrong application, it's not - patriotic, I guess, depending on semantics, I mean, what do you call patriotic? I certainly think I'm patriotic. I was born into the Second World War and I have vague memories of family members dying and for a just war because we all sacrificed as kids. There were paper drives, there were air raid blackouts, food rationing.
I remember that. We sacrificed. To look over time at where we are in being a country that's good at sacrificing and not being asked to sacrifice this last go around to hold the shop (ph). Something didn't add up.
So the idea that being back-bendingly liberal, it's not. Otherwise - if it was back-bendingly liberal, only one point of view would be expressed, and it's not true.
KING: Everyone knows who knows him and has interviewed him, Tom Cruise is probably the hardest-working man in the business. If it requires 78 takes, he'll do 78 takes.
REDFORD: We didn't have time for 78 takes.
KING: Did you like working with him?
REDFORD: I did. Tom had - the character was written older. And the idea that was appealing to me, one, that Tom was interested in doing it. He hadn't done anything like that before that would be - step into new territory for him. That interested me. Any time an actor wants to take a chance, I think that's great.
Secondly, I was more intrigued by the qualifications that could be applied with him doing it, like Tom has great intensity, he has a lot of energy and he has an all-American appeal. And I thought those were wonderful qualities to put into a character's suit that would basically be a - I think just a more dressed up version of what we've got now only better, therefore more dangerous.
So that's how that happened.
KING: "Lions for Lambs" is the film. It opens Friday. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STREEP: What is this?
STREEP: This meeting.
CRUISE: This is my honest effort to keep the press better informed and to change the subject from the past to the future. Acknowledge mistakes and talk openly about ways of fixing them. Step by step.
STREEP: How much time do we have together?
CRUISE: I have to 11:00.
STREEP: The whole hour. Wow. You all must be panicked.
CRUISE: Oh, no, no, no. We're determined.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STREEP: May I speak freely? You're about to implement another new strategy regardless of the human costs or the financial costs because you predict that maybe ...
CRUISE: We thought deep about the human costs when we were planning this strategy.
STREEP: What were your estimates, exactly?
CRUISE: What I can say is that this strategy has patience and determination at its core. It ensures that it puts our fighting men in spots where they can face, fight and kill the enemy so that we can then go about rebuilding that country. And if it takes 10 years, that's how long we stay. We do whatever it takes.
STREEP: Whatever it takes.
CRUISE: Whatever it takes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Our guest is Robert Redford. He's the star - costar and the director of "Lions for Lambs" which opens Friday.
The fact that Cruise is such a tabloid figure, people always looking at other sides of him, and the Scientology thing, did that ever come into the film?
REDFORD: No. First of all, I don't look at it - it's not my life. And it doesn't interest me. So no, it never came up at all.
KING: Did you get - when you were the young, great Robert Redford star, did you get ...
REDFORD: Thanks, Larry.
KING: I mean - come on. Those were the days, my friend.
REDFORD: What are these days?
KING: We're getting older. Not old, older.
Did you get the kind of scrutiny, press scrutiny that the Cruise gets and the Brad Pitts.
KING: You did?
REDFORD: Yeah, but in a different dimension because there is more - the whole landscape has changed so much. Now a lot of actors now are almost forced to be in the business themselves. That wasn't my case. Yeah, I got the same treatment but it was different because there wasn't that much - look, we still have three television channels. Internet hadn't been started. There wasn't so much information and so many channels of distribution. Not so much paparazzi and all that.
So that's increased, but the condition was the same. It was hard for a lot of years.
KING: On the top political level, you were involved in this, did "All the President's Men" change journalism?
REDFORD: Apparently not.
REDFORD: No. Well look at where we are. I think I learned a long time ago - the first thing I learned was don't take yourself too seriously. If you're an actor and suddenly you're asked to get on some kind of a platform, be careful. Don't take yourself seriously.
Years ago when I was just - had bought the land at Sundance - out in Utah and I was asked to speak to a bunch of bankers and I was - how - what can I say to bankers? And they said, it doesn't matter.
And I said, well, you've got to say something. And they gave me something to say. So I spoke to these bankers and when I looked out I was so nervous because I never had spoken before. It turned into a harangue. And I gave them a hard time - why can't you - why is it hard to get a loan? And don't you know you can't take it with you? And all that.
And at the end of it I thought, geez, what have I done, I've just buried myself and as I was going on the way out, the guy - it was pretty silent. I thought I had really tanked the thing. The guy on his way out says, Mr. Redford, I appreciate your comments. I just have a question for you. And I said, What? And he said, Did you make the jump off the cliff in "Butch Cassidy"?
And I said, well, OK, that settles that. I'm not going to be taken seriously. And I got a lot of heat in the early years when I went out on the environment and what usually was said, well, he's an actor, what does he know and that had a lot of effect. I mean, it was very difficult till Reagan got elected. And that took that argument off the table.
But those were the years that were really tough because you're trying to balance out your civil life, the responsibility you feel as a citizen and then as an artist. And sometimes they come together.
So, when "All the President's Men" came I thought, I just am a lucky person because I came in, I got involved in a project before the book was written, before the - before the hearings and before Nixon resigned. I came in at an early point so I felt like I lived through this period and I felt blessed. Woodward and Bernstein were very cooperative.
It was educational, it was fabulous. And when it came out I just felt like I was privileged to then as an artist, part of a moment in history that glorified journalism and since we were looking at journalism from the standpoint of investigative journalism and why it was so important, we had to look at what the ethic was around it. What are the axioms? What are the rules?
Two sources, have to go on record - so anyway, I just felt that I was very fortunate to be there at a glory point for journalism that saved our First Amendment. And now - it'll speak for itself where we are.
KING: Back with more Robert Redford. The film is "Lions for Lambs." It opens wide Friday. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REDFORD: Let's say we wrote a story that said Haldeman was a (inaudible) to control the funds.
DUSTIN HOFFMAN, ACTOR: Right. Would we be wrong?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me put it this way, I would have no problems if you wrote a story like that.
HOFFMAN: You wouldn't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REDFORD: ... they plan strategies around it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible)
REDFORD: The problem is not with the people that started this. The problem is with us who do nothing.
STREEP: It was all right there if we had bothered to connect the dots.
CRUISE: Do you want to win the war on terror? Yes or no? This is the quintessential yes or no question of our time.
Yes or no?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Robert Redford. The film is "Lions for Lambs." It opens Friday. It is engrossing.
When you presented it in Rome you said the United States has lost many things, lives, sacred freedoms, financial stability, its position of respect on the world stage.
Do you feel there's a possibility the United States, if that's true, can regain it?
REDFORD: Well, that's the question and I think the film tries to look at what maybe how it came to that place involving the relationship between journalism and politics, education. And then finally a snapshot of the - how isolated we are from what soldiers are going through over there.
I mean, what those two guys in the film are going through is the reality of what's going on and the disconnect and the isolation between - that's why the offices and the debate that's going on there juxtaposed against that is supposed to hopefully have people think, how can it be so isolated from what - lives being lost and what's going on there?
If we don't pay attention, if we don't do something quick, one thing is for sure. I think a change is absolutely needed. The fact that you bring out whatever was said in Rome, those aren't things I'm inventing. They're pretty obvious. I mean, I think they're factually pretty well-supported.
My view, having grown up in this country and I love this country and I am very interested in its virtues and values. So when they start to get trashed or decline, it's almost like you take it personally and when you're in other parts of the world, like we are a lot, actors, you get the heat.
So the first time around, they said, OK, we give it to you because you guys went through a hard time, struck on your shores, first time. And all of our country was asked to put to bed any kind of instincts we had for debate or criticism or challenging the administration, which we did. A very patriotic pledge.
And then - so all the question was put to bed to allow these people to do what had to be done. And then when we went to war, whatever questions we had, why are we going to war in a country that didn't attack us? Leaving the country that did and not finishing that job?
Well, just meantime all this while that fear card was being played and if you started to - up, you're unpatriotic. If you say anything against this.
Well, this thing bubbling up was not a very healthy thing. Europe was giving it to us. They said, we understand your shock, your hurt, you're frightened and confused.
But then when we went to war and it was discovered that it was on a lie, weapons of mass destruction, that's when I think those three elements should have become active. The media, the relationship and students and so forth.
The fact that that didn't happen led us to a reelection. Now I think the people - what I get the people, they say, how could you - what are you guys doing over there? How could you let this continue?
KING: Are you supporting any candidate, by the way?
REDFORD: I'm not going to - I don't get involved on the national stage.
KING: Never do?
REDFORD: No. I just felt that I could probably serve a better purpose by just grassroots involvement in local politics.
KING: You met the president. You received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2005.
REDFORD: This current president?
KING: In 2005, right? What was your impression? What did he say to you?
REDFORD: He said - well, they're all taking the high road. I thought this is - look, it's going to be tough but I was assured this has got nothing to do with politics, this is above politics ...
KING: It's a high honor.
REDFORD: Well, it is a high honor. And I accepted it on that level and I think art should be above politics. And since it was put to me that way I accepted it. And I said, well, they take the high road, I take the high road.
And the president gave me credit for winning an Academy Award as an actor when it was really a director, but I don't fault him for that.
KING: I mean, was he courteous to him and you were courteous to him? REDFORD: Yeah. Absolutely.
KING: Did you see "An Inconvenient Truth"?
REDFORD: Oh yeah. Sure.
KING: What did you make of that?
REDFORD: I think that what Al's film obviously was great timing because we had had a global warming conference back in 1989, Sundance, with the Soviet Academy of Sciences, getting the two communities together to talk about how serious it was. Never got any traction. And because people - the public wasn't ready for it. It was still something way out there beyond their reach or imagination.
The political scene was even stronger with control of gas and oil and all of that. So it didn't get the traction.
What happened was Al was putting together this film with his touring - with, he had kind of a lecture tour and he was gaining strength as he went, really refining it so that it went into the film and was very strong.
It also happened to coincide with the fact that Wall Street finally realized there was money to be made by going green, which I think was a major part of the tipping point.
And then the third was that people could finally see what a lot of people had been saying for years and years is that we have a problem that's going to show up in your backyard health-wise and it did.
So you put those three things together and I think Al's film was kind of the spearhead to drive it through to a mass audience.
But I think it was the three areas coming together at this time.
KING: So you obviously think he deserved a Nobel Prize.
REDFORD: Yeah. Well, I don't know what the criteria is for the Nobel Prize. I think he deserves a lot of credit.
KING: Well, a Nobel Prize is the most credit you can get.
REDFORD: I think so - it's better ...
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Robert Redford covering a couple of other bases. "Lions for Lambs" opens Friday. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REDFORD: All I want to say is that you're an adult now. And the tough thing about adulthood is that it starts before you even know it starts. When you're already a dozen decisions into it. But what you need to know, Todd, no lifeguard is watching you anymore. You're on your own. You're your own man and the decisions you make now are yours and yours alone from here until the end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Robert Redford. You live a green life?
REDFORD: Pretty much.
KING: Sundance is a green area.
REDFORD: Sundance green, my cars are green and yeah, I mean, I've had a solar home since 1975. I built a passive solar home to - the time I got involved in all of this, it seemed so simple. I didn't realize it was going to be as complicated when politics is part of the picture.
But when I was at a conference in 1972 and they were talking about renewable energy sources versus non-renewable and all the industries that we were involved with that were providing our jobs and the economy and where all the money was going and being taken was in resources that were non-renewable, oil and gas and so forth and clearly if you just looked at the picture, it was only a matter of time before those resources were gone and it would affect our country drastically in so many different ways and that over here was the renewable energy resources which were available, right under our noses available. Why weren't we doing something about it?
Well, I was naive. I didn't realize that business had such a great grip on that and so I took a year and studied alternative energy and came up with - came to the conclusion that solar did have some merit and so I built a solar home in Utah. Passive ...
KING: How does it work? It works good?
REDFORD: Yeah. No, absolutely. It does work. And now it's vastly more sophisticated and developed and therefore improved than when I built.
So that's viable. Wind is viable. All these things were there and I thought, why are we not seeing more on that and why do we get hammered on the other stuff.
So it started in a very simple way but I was naive. I didn't realize how complicated it was when you stepped into the politics of it.
KING: Couple of other things. What do you make of Paul Newman retiring?
REDFORD: That's his choice. I mean, I - look, Paul is my friend and whatever he wants to do is good for me. If he wants to retire, that's his business.
I mean - somebody said recently, well, what - he retired because his health was going bad and this is nonsense. The guy beats me in badminton. He's hardly - he's doing fine. I just respect his decision. If that's what he wants to do it's his life.
KING: What about Jane Fonda coming back to movies?
REDFORD: It's her life. If that's what she wants to do it's great. I like Jane, so.
KING: You remain a great friend of hers, too, don't you?
REDFORD: Yes, I do.
KING: You're a true living legend.
REDFORD: Well, I'm living.
KING: It's an honor having you. Thank you, Bob.
REDFORD: Thank you.
KING: Robert Redford, he is the director, the producer and costar of "Lions for Lambs" which opens nationwide on Friday, November 9.
As we leave you tonight, our heartfelt condolences go out to the Osmonds. George Osmond, the patriarch of that remarkable show business family has died. He was 90 years old.
George's beloved wife Olive died in 2004. Our thoughts are with the Osmond kids, Donnie and Marie and Allen, Jay, Jimmy, Merrill, Wayne, Tom and Verl (ph).
George Osmond leaves quite a legacy and he will be deeply missed by everyone who knew him and who loved him.
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