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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

The Death Of Heath Ledger/Super Tuesday: Super Close

Aired February 6, 2008 - 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, Michael Moore -- provocative, outspoken, always controversial. He went after President Bush on Iraq and the insurance companies on health care.
What's in his sights now?

The man with something to say about almost everything talks politics and why he has not endorsed a candidate yet.

Plus, we now know how Heath Ledger died.

But why are the Feds investigating?

We'll get some answers next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

Also included later tonight will be two former White House press secretaries, Dee Dee Myers for Bill Clinton and Ari Fleischer for George Bush the 43rd.

But we begin tonight with the startling results about the death of Heath Ledger.

Here in Los Angeles is Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of VH1's new reality series, "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew". He's an addiction and recovery expert, medical director of the department of chemical dependency services at Las Encinas Hospital.

Also here is Shaun Robinson, weekend co-anchor and correspondent for "Access Hollywood".

And in New York is David Caplan, staff editor of "People".

What's the latest, David?

DAVID CAPLAN, STAFF EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Well, the latest is that the New York City medical examiner's office today announced that they've concluded Heath Ledger died from an accidental overdose. And the overdose happened from six different prescription drugs -- anti-anxiety, a sleeping aid, as well as painkiller. And they're saying that, really, the acute intoxication was what killed him and this happened when all of these pills were mixed together.

KING: Are we saying, Dr. Pinsky, that if anybody took these six pills together, they would die? DR. DREW PINSKY, "CELEBRITY REHAB WITH DR. DREW": We're not really saying that. What we're saying is that this is a combination that's potentially lethal. There is no single physician that would ever prescribe this combination.

KING: Ever?

PINSKY: There's really no rational reason for it. Whether -- the two opiods he was taking are not prescribed together. The three different benzodiazepines, an anti-anxiety medicine he was taking, should never -- they're really recapitulations of the same thing over and over again. Here they are -- right.

KING: Let's tell us what they are.

PINSKY: It's basically Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin -- the Oxycodone and Hydrocodone. Those are not prescribed together. They are extremely powerful pain medications that should never be used in a healthy person and only for very short periods of time for things like surgical pain. Diazepam is valium. Temazepam is Restoril. Alprazolam is Xanax. That combination not prescribed together. And if you add those two classes together, even individually, even if it was one medicine from each class, you have a potentially lethal combination. And now the Doxcillimin (ph) is an over the counter medication, an over the counter sleeping aid that has what's called anti-cholinergic side effects that can affect the heart. So this is a wild combination of medicines.

KING: Would you bet that not one doctor would have prescribed this?

PINSKY: There's just no way. If he does, there's a (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: He kited this (ph), in a sense?

PINSKY: Well, listen, a patient, either knowingly or unknowingly, they're looking for solutions. And unless somebody says, hey, these things don't go together, it can happen to anyone.

KING: Shaun, do we know why the Feds are investigating?

SHAUN ROBINSON, CORRESPONDENT, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD": Oh, absolutely, Larry. This is a routine investigation that the Drug Enforcement Agency is looking into, because they said that anytime a person has overdosed, they have to look into how they actually got the drugs -- whether it was through a false name, whether they ordered them online, overseas or whether somebody was getting the drugs for them. So they said it doesn't matter if it is a celebrity or not. This is a routine investigation into how one person got all of these drugs.

KING: So they're investigating the doctors, right?

ROBINSON: Yes.

KING: The person is dead...

ROBINSON: Absolutely. Right.

KING: So there's no charge against him. By the way, there wouldn't be a charge against him anyway. They were legal drugs, right?

PINSKY: I guess so. But I think it's more investigative than anything else. It's how did these things come about and did somebody drop the ball somewhere or did somebody participate in his demise by offering him these things?

KING: David, do you think this will scare others who might be into the same thing?

CAPLAN: I mean, well, it's interesting, because today Heath's dad issued a statement saying that he hopes that what happened to Heath is really a reminder to other people to be careful with prescription medications. So absolutely.

KING: Heath's father released this statement on behalf of the Ledger family after the medical examiner's findings were released. And it says, in part: "Today's results put an end to speculation. While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today that the combination of doctor prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath's accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage."

Is that a little bit of a hedge?

PINSKY: Oh, yes, there's a hedge there, you should know that in my professional work -- and I've treated 10,000 addicts in the last 20 years. I treat addicts every day of my professional life. I would say nearly all now come in on prescription medication prescribed by doctors. It's part of the addictive process these days. The kind of chemicals that we have access to and have a very low threshold to perceiving their potential harm, as you see in these -- our very discussion here today -- these things are profoundly addictive and they're in everyone's medicine cabinet. But addicts get involved with these things almost without exception now.

ROBINSON: Larry, I don't know, you were probably watching the Super Bowl. And during one of the commercials, they had a drug dealer as part of the commercial. And he said your kids don't need me because they are getting high off of your own drugs.

KING: Right.

ROBINSON: More and more doctors, as Dr. Drew said, are seeing people overdosing and people getting addicted to these prescription drugs. It's an epidemic.

KING: Would the bet be that he had been doing this for a while, not just this one instance of six pills?

PINSKY: That would be a reasonable bet, because this is -- this isn't a combination that people go out one evening and put together.

KING: Right. PINSKY: This is something that escalates with time.

KING: Now, play doctor for me without being too technical.

PINSKY: OK.

KING: What killed him?

PINSKY: Basically he stopped breathing. That's probably all that happened. And the combination of the opiate and the benzodiazepam can stop somebody's breath...

KING: Like going to sleep?

PINSKY: Like going to sleep and not breathing. And he was heard to be snoring and then all of a sudden the breathing stopped. There could have been a cardiac problem, a rhythm problem with his heart superimposed on that caused maybe by the over the counter sleeping aid, or maybe there were other things that didn't show up on the toxicology. That happens with my patients all the time. But the fact is, he just stopped breathing.

KING: Is this, David, the end of it as with regard to "People" magazine and "Access Hollywood" and their search for this?

Is him being buried and the story being out, is that it?

CAPLAN: I mean it definitely provides us with a lot of closure. Everyone was waiting for this toxicology report. And I think in the coming days, we're going to see a lot more closure, because on Saturday in Perth, Australia, Heath is going to be buried. And Michelle Williams is there, his daughter Matilda and the whole family. So I definitely think it's going to wind down a little bit.

KING: Last month, a video surfer showing Heath Ledger hanging out at a Hollywood party and drugs were being taken.

CAPLAN: Yes.

KING: You saw that video.

CAPLAN: I saw that video. And it will break your heart if everyone ever -- if the public ever gets a chance to see it. You see this man's anguish and conflict of being in an environment where he's doing drugs, talking about his extensive drug history in that environment.

KING: Is this pills or...

CAPLAN: He talks about -- and I'm not really comfortable telling you exactly what he said until people are ready to issue this tape. But he was talking about an extensive history. Now, whether that was just bravado or reality -- and he seemed to be intoxicated in this video with very, very serious narcotics medication.

The fact is, though, this is someone who was in deep anguish when he's doing this. And you see his profound conflict that knowing his daughter and his wife are upstairs. He keeps saying I shouldn't be there. This is terrible. And he really is struggling. And it is so painful to watch somebody whom we all love and have great respect for, going through this incredible experience.

KING: All right...

CAPLAN: I will tell you, Larry, my problem is that the whole thing gets shrouded in secrecy. That's my problem, is that people want to make a secret out of this. And if they hadn't when he was alive, he'd still be alive.

KING: When we come back, more on Heath Ledger and how he died.

And still to come, Michael Moore, the filmmaker.

And the former White House press spokesmen, Ari Fleischer and Dee Dee Myers.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM LEDGER, HEATH LEDGER'S FATHER: He was a down to earth, generous, kind-hearted, life-loving, unselfish individual who was extremely inspirational to me.

STANLEY TUCCI, ACTOR: Every time you saw that guy on screen, you just wanted to watch him. And it's sad that he's gone.

ROB REINER, DIRECTOR: It's really tragic when somebody who is gifted and talented is cut down at the early part of their career, because we always think about what more they could have offered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: David Caplan, does your research tell you how all this started for Heath?

CAPLAN: I mean, it's interesting. Sources tell people, in fact, that he was -- you know, he was very troubled over -- in recent months and in recent years because he was really affected a lot by his split from Michelle Williams. And even before that, you know, it's interesting, he spoke a lot about how he played the role of the Joker in that film and how that role was so compassing to him. He played a dark character. He was a psychopathic character. And, you know, by playing these roles, it affected him off-screen, as well. And he just really spiraled into this dark place that unfortunately including drug use, sources tell us.

KING: So, doctor, it could be an occurrence that begins you?

PINSKY: Well, oh, sure. Something has to incite the process.

KING: That's what I mean.

PINSKY: Yes. People -- there are various ways that sort of the problem gets initiated. But once it's in, it's a medical problem, it's a biological problem. And it has a worse prognosis than most cancers. This is what people don't realize. First, we wouldn't hide the fact that somebody had a pancreatic tumor or, you know, a brain tumor. But for some reason this one medical condition we want to hide and shrink from. And the fact is this is a medical disorder. It's a brain disease. It is triggered accidentally many times. And once it's underway, it has a treatment and the treatment works.

KING: The doctors who feed it, shouldn't they be de-licensed?

ROBINSON: Well, you know, Larry, you were asking, does this story die down now that the toxicology report has been revealed?

But I am just so -- what upsets me so much is that the issue of our society being one of pill poppers, if that issue dies down, then we're going to have more and more Heath Ledgers out there. We take pills for everything. You know, instead of taking two Tylenol, you take four. Instead of going to the gym, you take your vitamins. And, you know, take an aspirin at everything. We want a pill to eliminate all of our problems without the work it takes to make ourselves better. And I think that's the issue that we need to be addressing right now.

KING: Well, and the prescription industry plays a part in it.

PINSKY: Well, look -- no...

KING: They don't?

PINSKY: Everyone plays a part. But here's -- you know, my dad is a family practitioner. He always raised me with the idea that you only put a pill in your mouth when you absolutely had to -- when the risks of taking a medication were outweighed by the potential problems of taking the medicine. And so pills were last resorts. Medications were last resorts.

Pills have become the answer for everything.

ROBINSON: Um-hmm.

PINSKY: And that's exactly what you're talking about. And there's even epistemology -- you need to be aware of this, Larry -- an epistemology amongst physicians that the way to treat people that get accidentally hooked is to give them more medicine. That's a -- that's a...

KING: That's a belief?

PINSKY: That's an epistemology out there that people maintain. I am clearly not of that point of view, but that's part of what's swirling around here is that there's disagreement about how to approach these problems within the medical community.

KING: David, do you understand the attraction?

CAPLAN: The attraction toward the drug use and the pills?

KING: Pills. Yes.

CAPLAN: I mean I think it's very common in Hollywood, unfortunately, because a lot of these celebrities, they're, you know, they're celebrities. They're put under so much stress. And the interesting thing here is that when they're so high up, one of their biggest fears is losing all of that.

PINSKY: Right.

CAPLAN: So they enter this world of drugs and it really takes them away from all of it. So, unfortunately, it's not that problem. And we know even a week or so, Heath Ledger died, we had Brad Renfro -- another young star, also die, unfortunately, from use.

PINSKY: Right. David, by the way, your career more stressful than a celebrity's.

(LAUGHTER)

PINSKY: It's true. And Larry's is more stressful. The fact is that a celebrity -- it's good to be a celebrity, but the stress is the potential of losing it, the potential of being exposed in some way because you are so out there in the public view...

ROBINSON: Right.

PINSKY: And it's very painful to them, the possibility of losing this thing that they value so deeply.

ROBINSON: Right. But, also, OK, let's be real. A lot of times in Hollywood, things are glamorized. Pills are glamorized. I mean, you know, you see a person in a blue collar town looking at us saying oh, it's so stressful to be in Hollywood. They're like, look, you not -- if you can't pay your bills, that's stressful.

So I think in this culture, in the Hollywood culture, it's glamorous. Popping pills is glamorized. And that is the problem. And that is an issue that should not go away out there.

PINSKY: And then the community behaves like what we call a sick family. There's a statement and -- sort of, we have an aphorism in the addiction field, which is you're as sick as your secrets. And this community maintains secrets like crazy. And you can't address these things.

Look at Anna Nicole. She died because no one stepped up. And you've got to -- you're dying. We've got to do something here. And it was remained -- it remained secret. No one talked about it and somebody's dead. Maybe somebody else got (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Thank you all very much.

Dr. Drew Pinsky, Shaun Robinson and David Caplan.

In a little while, Michael Moore joins us.

When we come back, Ari Fleischer and Dee Dee Myers.

And tomorrow night, Ann Coulter right here.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our time has come.

(APPLAUSE)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I won't let anyone swift boat this country's future.

(APPLAUSE).

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are the Republican Party frontrunner for the nomination of the president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush. He served as senior communications adviser and spokesperson for the Bush/Cheney campaign.

And it's good to see her again, in Washington, Dee Dee Myers, our old friend, the former White House press secretary for President Clinton, contributing editor of "Vanity Fair" and author of "Why Women Should Rule the World".

We'll start with Ari.

What's your overview of Tuesday?

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY 2001-2003: Well, you know, I can't help but remember, in 2000, California ended John McCain's campaign and handed it to George Bush. This time, John McCain is definitely the frontrunner.

The Democrat race, Larry, there's no way that thing ends in February. It will go at least until March and maybe beyond that.

KING: What do you see in it, Dee Dee?

DEE-DEE MYERS, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN PRESS SECRETARY 1993-1994: Well, I think the conventional wisdom on the street today -- and we all know that conventional wisdom has been wrong in almost every twist and turn in this Democratic race, is that it will go all the way to the Democratic national convention in Denver.

Who knows?

But for the moment, you have two very strong candidates locked in a close race for delegates, locked in a close race for votes, looking forward to defining themselves against now the Republican nominee -- it looks almost certain to be John McCain.

The one advantage out there, we're finding out, is that Barack Obama has a ton of money. He's raising something like a million dollars a day, most of it on the Internet. Hillary Clinton had to loan herself $5 million in January to keep her campaign competitive through Super Tuesday.

So we'll see what happens. It's an awfully exciting race and who knows where it ends?

KING: Where does it end, Ari?

Put your crystal ball on.

FLEISCHER: Well, here's where I think the Republican side goes next. Mitt Romney's best hope -- and really his only hope -- is an important event tomorrow in Washington. The conservatives gather for their annual conference of 6,000 activists of the activists of the activists of base of the party. It's called CPAC.

John McCain typically doesn't go and he doesn't get a good reception when he goes. Tomorrow, he needs to make a good impression. If he makes a good impression, I think it's really over. If he goes and he gets booed, and then you get three contests this weekend, Larry, Louisiana -- which Mike Huckabee will probably win -- and then Kansas and caucuses in Washington. If Mitt Romney wins those two, Huckabee wins Louisiana and McCain has a bad day at CPAC, the narrative changes. The math doesn't. It's still very uphill for either Romney or Huckabee. McCain has got a very good lead.

But the narrative could change. People then could say -- because John McCain has such a conservative problem -- that maybe this thing goes longer than we thought.

Tomorrow is an important day for John McCain to give an impassioned speech and to show conservatives...

MYERS: But...

KING: Dee Dee?

FLEISCHER: ...his heart is with them.

MYERS: Yes, and I think what conservatives...

KING: Dee Dee, go ahead. MYERS: The conservatives face a real dilemma here -- do they want to, you know, try to derail this nomination, which, as Ari points out, seems pretty close to impossible -- although, you never know. And if he is the nominee, do they want to sit on their hands and risk electing a Democrat, or, perhaps worse, sit on their hands and see John McCain elected without them?

And I think that's a difficult dilemma that the conservatives within the party are facing at this point.

KING: Dee Dee, we'll start with you this go around.

We'll be in New York next Tuesday and we'll be part of the team anchoring the results in that Potomac vote...

MYERS: Right.

KING: ...which includes Washington, D.C. , Virginia and Maryland.

How important a key will that be to the Democrats, Dee Dee?

MYERS: Well, I think there are a number of contests coming up across the country, including the Potomac primary here next Tuesday and several caucus states and then here, many of which favor Barack Obama. They're small states, but we've seen part of Obama's strategy has been to win in small states, not necessarily places that Democrats will win in November, but to rack up the delegates, to rack up the number of states in his win column. I think we'll see that.

February, as Ari mentioned, is going to be a tough month for Hillary Clinton and probably a better month for Barack Obama, if he wins, in this region in particular. Very strong in Washington, D.C. , where you have a large African-American population. Very strong in Maryland for Obama, where you have not only a substantial African- American population, but affluent educated whites in places like Montgomery County.

So I think Virginia is a little more complicated, so we'll see. But I think, you know, the momentum, the narrative for Democrats in the next couple of weeks looks very good for Barack Obama. And when you add to that his substantial financial advantage, if you had to pick a frontrunner coming up to this next phase, I'd have to say it's Barack Obama.

KING: Ari, where did McCain go right?

FLEISCHER: He went right because he had a lot of Republicans against him. In other words, divide and conquer. That's how John McCain, the maverick, has gotten to the position he's in. And it's a fascinating position, because he is the strongest general election candidate. The things that drive conservatives bonkers are the very things that makes him the most electable in November -- there's tremendous appeal John McCain uniquely has among Republicans to the center of the electorate.

But you can't win with just the center. You need a unified base. And that's why, if I was advising John McCain, the most important thing for him now is to be magnanimous, to be conservative, to be conciliatory and then to continue what he's always had in the middle.

That's not exactly John McCain's nature, though. And that's why it's so important for him to get conservatives. And, Larry, especially if it's Barack Obama.

MYERS: Well...

FLEISCHER: Barack will have the liberal base sewed up. It will be a fair fight in the middle between Obama and McCain. Without conservatives, John McCain can't win.

MYERS: But McCain, you know, one of the -- I mean Ari, I think, points out kind of a difficult straddle for John McCain. He has to shore up his conservative base while at the same time remaining appealing to Independents. That's going to be pretty tough. And by the general election, I think John McCain is going to look like he's running for George Bush's third term -- not a great position.

He's going to be running, you know, to continue full out effort in the war in Iraq. Although that's receded, it's still very unpopular. He's going to be, you know, calling for the Bush tax cuts to be permanent, even for wealthy Americans, in the face of a recession. I mean it's just not a great -- he's going to be -- you know, he's much more simpatico with...

KING: Speaking...

MYERS: ...President Bush's position on immigration, for example, than the conservative base's.

So, you know, McCain finds himself trying to bring together a party that doesn't necessarily want to come together. And, as we've learned, as Ari points out, John McCain is not a great frontrunner, you know?

He...

KING: Speaking of that, Ari, I had the -- I guess you call pleasure -- of moderating that famed McCain/Bush debate...

FLEISCHER: Yes. I remember. In South Carolina.

KING: ...in 2000 in Columbia, South Carolina. And I know they get along better now, but they didn't get along too well then.

Would McCain want Bush out campaigning for him?

FLEISCHER: Well, number one, John McCain was a warrior for George Bush in 2000. You know, it only was a couple of weeks later when George Bush won the nomination. And John McCain was a man of integrity and his word. And he did everything he could for George Bush.

It's a different position, though, in 2008, because John McCain was much more popular in 2000 than George Bush is, unfortunately, in 2008. I think George Bush will get a hero's welcome at the Republican convention. He'll raise money for the nominee. But I don't see George Bush doing a lot of door-to-door campaigning in the Midwestern ticket splitting states, if you know what I mean.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Will the loser...

MYERS: We welcome him there in a general election.

KING: Dee Dee, will the loser in the Obama/Clinton fight strongly endorse the other and go out and campaign?

MYERS: Boy, I sure hope so. I think so. One of the encouraging things about this very hotly contested race is that exit polls last night showed that about 70 percent of Democrats said they'd be comfortable with either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama as the nominee. And that's great news for the party. Even though this is a hot race and people are lining up one side or the other, people feel really good about both candidates.

So I hope so and I certainly expect that that will happen. But, you know, as we go forward, this could get -- you know, it's going to be a war of attrition across the next several months. There's a lot of talk about whether the candidates will try to go negative. That wasn't particularly effective, particularly for Hillary Clinton, in South Carolina. But we'll see.

KING: Yes.

MYERS: Hopefully the party will be able to -- you know, a contested primary can actually be good for the soul of a party. It produces stronger nominees, as long as things don't go off the rails.

FLEISCHER: And that's what...

KING: Thank you both very much.

And we'll be calling on you a lot in the next few months.

Ari Fleischer and Dee Dee Myers. They held two of the top posts in government, press secretaries to their president.

He is loud. He's got a lot to say. You'll hear it all from the one and only Michael Moore, who joins us right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Like him or not, he's never dull. He's Michael Moore, the Oscar winning documentary maker. His most recent film "Sicko" is a 2008 Academy Award nominee for best feature documentary. Congratulations.

MICHAEL MOORE, "SICKO": Thank you very much.

KING: "Sicko" is credited with helping make health care an important campaign issue. He was supposed to begin the show tonight. But he came here from Malibu. If anybody is not a Malibu person, it's you.

MOORE: What was I doing out there? I'm here for a couple of days and suddenly -- well, I was actually, you know, all good liberals must go and meet with Barbra Streisand.

KING: Is that where you were?

MOORE: Yes. Well, because she gives us everything that we need.

KING: She anoints you?

MOORE: And gives us instruction and what to think and say. I mean, we adore her, and so I'm all set to go now. She said to say hi.

KING: How is Barbara.

MOORE: She's fine. In fact, she's with me. If you want to just bring here -- no.

KING: OK, the presidential contest. I understand you're not endorsing yet.

MOORE: That's right.

KING: Why not?

MOORE: Well --

KING: You have so many opinions. You have no opinion?

MOORE: No, I have opinions. I think there are many good things about Senator Clinton and Senator Obama and many things about them that I don't like. I think Senator Edwards was probably closer to the things I believe in, the way that he was willing to go after the corporations and stand up to the little guy. I was sorry to see him drop out. Now it's --

KING: You're just waiting?

MOORE: Yes, I'm waiting -- I guess I'm waiting like he's waiting and I think a lot of people are waiting to see which one of them -- I think ultimately the country, though, is waiting for the chance to go in there and mark next to the big D on the ballot.

KING: Turn out in all the primaries -- the Democrats have been turning out in droves.

MOORE: Oh, yes. It's is huge. You guys have talked about this, right?

KING: Did before Barbara Streisand try to influence you towards Senator Clinton, who she is endorsing?

MOORE: No, I think -- Barbara, do you want to speak for yourself? She's a longtime friend of the Clintons and also really admires and respects Senator Obama. I think that's the position, actually, of most in the people in the country that want to see a change in the White House, that I think -- you know, the people who vote for Senator Clinton don't hate Senator Obama and the people who vote for Senator Obama don't hate Senator Clinton. They just want an end to the eight years of, you know, madness.

KING: What are your thoughts on Senator McCain?

MOORE: You know --

KING: You can't dislike him.

MOORE: No, I feel sorry for him, really. If you were a Republican, is this the year you'd want to run? The poor guy. He's not -- even the corporate money has shifted from the Republicans. Have you seen the latest statistics? They're now backing more Democrats than they are Republicans this year. I think what's happened on the Republican side is that, you know, in 1980 born-again Christians came together with Wall Street, these two forces that had nothing really to do with each other. Wall Street doesn't care about gay marriage or abortion or whatever, and born-again Christians don't spend a lot of time in front of the Bloomberg ticker.

But they came together, Larry, and they formed the dominant political force of the last 27 years that we've been living with. This year, they've sort of split apart. So, business-people like Romney. The born-agains love Mr. Huckabee. I guess McCain picks up the rest. Look how many Democrats are coming out to vote in these primaries? There's going to be a tsunami of people in the polls in November to plunk down for the Democrats.

KING: Has President Clinton been a liability?

MOORE: Well, yes and no. I mean, I think most people were disappointed in the positions that he took in South Carolina, things that were said. On the other hand, if people remember the Clinton years, boy, they just look like Nirvana now. I think, you know, you can go either way on this.

My personal feeling is that -- my first book I wrote, I had a chapter about Hillary called "My Forbidden Love for Hillary." I actually have really liked her for a long time. But here votes for the war -- and I don't just mean the first vote, but her continually voting for the war would make it almost morally impossible for me to vote for her. I hate to say that, but that really is --

KING: But you just said you could.

MOORE: Well, if she's on the ballot -- I'm talking about during the primaries now. I just don't think that to have to -- I don't understand why she voted and kept voting for the war. I don't think --

KING: She believed in it. She trusted the president, who said he had the information to back up weapons of mass destruction. MOORE: OK, but if that's what she's saying, that she believed George W. Bush --

KING: It's the information she was given.

MOORE: Yes, but, Larry, 30 percent of the country figured out the war was wrong when it started. That means you're saying that 100 million Americans were smarter than the person running for the Oval Office. You want the person running for president to be smarter than 100 million Americans. I mean, I knew it was wrong, and a lot of other people knew it. But she didn't know it.

Mr. Obama knew that it was wrong, and so I just think that that's probably hurt her on some level with a lot of people. I live in Michigan, so my votes didn't get counted, you know. Michigan and Florida, we're sort of --

KING: Where do you stand? How will you get delegates to Denver?

MOORE: I have no idea, dog sled. It's a crime that people in Michigan and Florida, our votes are not going to be heard or counted.

KING: More with the big guy who stands up for the little guy when LARRY KING LIVE returns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no doubt that I can get the people who voted for Senator Clinton in a general election. It is not clear that Senator Clinton can get all the people that I'm getting in this process.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I don't stay in the race, I can't win. I've got to keep answering the bell every time it rings.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am, you know, on the path to win the nomination. That's what I intend to do. That's what this is about.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know how we can unite the party. I know how we can bring us all together. And I know that the independent voters and, frankly, the old Reagan Democrats will come our way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I believe absolutely passionately that we must have universal health care. It is a moral responsibility and a right for our country.

OBAMA: You can mandate it, but there's still going to be people who can't afford it. And if they cannot afford it, then the question is, what are you going to do about it? MCCAIN: Ronald Reagan said, nobody ever washed a rental car, and that's true in health insurance. If they're responsible for it, then they will take more care of it.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's the conservative approach to make sure that people who can afford care are getting it at their expense, not at the expense of taxpayers and government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Michael Moore. Appropriately, an e-mail question from Sandy in Kirkland, Washington; "Michael, can you please explain what you see as the key differences between Obama's and Hillary's health care plans?"

MOORE: The main problem with both of them is that they allow the private insurance companies to remain at the table and control our health insurance. So we'll never really fix the problem as long as we have the private companies involved making a profit. These companies, in order to make a profit, have to deny care and leave people out.

Now, some of -- for instance, Mrs. Clinton's plan won't allow them to do that. Well, that's great, but they've got to make sure they still can't charge a higher fee to somebody. If you were born with a disease or birth defect or whatever, why should you be punished? It's not like car insurance. If you're a reckless driver, you should pay more. We shouldn't have to pay for your recklessness. But if you become ill or you get elderly or whatever, that usually isn't your fault. Why should you be punished for that?

Senator Clinton's plan will cover just about everybody, but it's mandated. And I don't think I've heard her say exactly, if you don't buy insurance, what's the punishment? Are they going to put a lien on your house? Are they going to deduct it from your wages? How are they going to take the money from you if you refuse to buy health insurance? We need a single payer plan that the government controls much like it does with Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid, the good things that the government does. This is what -- I think people are sick and tired of Republicans talking about the government being bad and big and evil. The government is great. It's us. It's we the people, of, by, and for us.

We need to control our own health care and have it in our hands.

KING: Think you'll see that come?

MOORE: Absolutely, yes. It has to come. Look, every other civilized country on this planet and even some uncivilized ones have universal health care that the government is in charge of for their people. I mean, it works. You must know people on Social Security. Their check comes every month, on time, for the same amount. That's a huge bureaucracy that's run quite well, and we can run bureaucracies quite well. Our problem has been the people in charge of them. We've elected the wrong people over the years and they've messed it up.

KING: Will the health care be as good?

MOORE: Well, of course.

KING: The argument is it won't.

MOORE: Because?

KING: Government mandated, government controlled.

MOORE: You will still pick your own doctor. You will pick your own hospital. All those things will still be, just as it is in Canada and these other countries. All the lies we've been told about these other countries -- you know, they take your decisions away. All the decisions remain with you. The difference is in a country like Canada, nobody has ever lost their home because of medical bills. Nobody has ever gone bankrupt in England because they got sick. Nobody. And that is the number one cause of bankruptcy and hopelessness in this country. We need to correct that.

KING: Michael Moore is our guest, nominated for an Academy Award. Let's check in with Anderson Cooper. He will host "AC 360" at the top of the hour. Anderson, what's up?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, tonight the big battle to come between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Super Tuesday really settled nothing on the Democratic side. The coming month could change everything. We'll look at where the two campaigns go from here and which one is better equipped to win it all. The race for money.

Also tonight, shocking developments in the sad story of Britney Spears. Now out of the hospital, released today. She went straight from there to the Beverly Hills Hotel, of all places. We'll take a look at what's going on with her and the shady people that surround her. Some incredible allegations of drug abuse and even mind control. I'll also be live blogging during the program, something new tonight. Check it out at CNN.com/360. All that and more at the top of the hour.

KING: Think the Spears story is ever going away, Anderson?

COOPER: We haven't been following it much, but I've got to tell you, it's just sad. I don't know what's going to happen with it, but I hope something resolves quickly.

KING: That's Anderson Cooper at -- You want to say something?

MOORE: I was going to say, it would be less sad if we just left her alone. Why don't we just leave her alone and let her go on with her life?

KING: Why does she continue to be a story?

COOPER: I don't know. This is the first time we've covered her for a long time. Clearly, people are just fascinated. There was a story in the LA papers today about the money which is generated by a lot of these paparazzi news agencies and these magazines which seem to follow her every move. It's out of control.

MOORE: Anderson, what are you doing blogging during the show? You've got to be on your game here.

COOPER: I'm trying. It's during commercial breaks. I don't know if it's going to work, Michael. We'll see.

KING: I've lost control. Anderson Cooper, 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOORE: Four health care lobbyists for every member of Congress. Here's what it costs to buy these men, and this woman, this guy and this guy. The United States slipped to 37 in health care around the world, just slightly ahead of Slovenia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Michael Moore. Strange e-mail question from Dick in Ohio; "To my knowledge, "Fahrenheit 911" has never been shown on commercial TV" --

MOORE: That is correct.

KING: "Is this because station owners back Bush or are the networks afraid of political retribution?"

MOORE: They've been afraid, I think, to show it. If you were watch it now, Larry, a movie that I made four years ago. Four years ago in that movie I was talking about how the soldiers were being treated at Walter Reed Hospital. So many things in that movie have since now finally the media has paid some attention to. But I went over to the Toronto Film Festival a couple of months ago and I get out at the car at the hotel to check in and the guy checking me in says, hey, your movie was on TV here on the Canadian Television, on the CBC, "Fahrenheit 9/11."

I said, you've got to be kidding me. I can't even get that shown in my own country. I get mail from all over the world.

KING: Why isn't it shown?

MOORE: That's the question to ask the heads of the networks. You know, I mean, I don't know what political retribution they're afraid of at this point. They're certainly more powerful than most politicians. They are GE and --

KING: We have an e-mail question from Debbie in Texas, "Do Mr. Moore's religious beliefs play a factor in how he votes? And what does he think of the idea that our country was based on keeping government out of the church, not god out of government?"

MOORE: Well, I mean, my own personal beliefs probably do inform how I vote, how I live, you know. I was raised Irish Catholic, still go to Mass. I believe very strongly in those principles and I try to live by them as best I can. So they probably -- they inform when I say that I am morally prohibited from voting for Hillary in the primaries, because of her war votes. I mean that not as a personal attack against her but I simply can't side with somebody who participated in, whether willingly or unknowingly, as she claims, in something that has been --

KING: So this comes from your religious background?

MOORE: I think it probably does. I went to the seminary to be a priest when I was in high school.

KING: Really?

MOORE: Yes, but I don't wear it on my sleeve. I'm not a proselytizer or anything like that. I just try to still live by it as best I can.

KING: Do you think the rap against Romney was unfair?

MOORE: Absolutely, I do. I hate it when I see anybody attacking anybody's religion, whether it's Mitt Romney or Tom Cruise. I just think that should be off limits. As Americans, it's nobody's business. It's everybody's private business. When is the last time you heard a sentence where the words Mitt Romney and Tom Cruise were in the same sentence?

KING: It would have to come from you. An e-mail from Lois in Tucson, "Michael, I'm a big fan. I've seen all your movies. What's your next project?"

MOORE: I have a number of things. I can't talk about them too much while I'm doing them for all the obvious reasons.

KING: Are you doing one now?

MOORE: Yes, I'm in the middle of one now. You know, if I can just say in the broad strokes of it, in the last eight years, a lot of things happened in this country that we didn't pay a lot of attention to because we were so focused on Bush and the war. While we were so focused on that and distracted, corporate America and others got away with a lot. A lot of stuff that we're going to have a hard time getting our democracy back. It's sort of -- you know, the theme of it is while America slept, but it's a comedy.

KING: You must be fierce to watch in the editing room.

MOORE: We have a lot of fun in the editing room.

KING: You really know how to edit.

MOORE: I have great editors, too, that work with me. We're a good team. I'm so proud. The editors are nominated for the Editors Awards out here next week, in addition to the Oscars.

KING: Back with our remaining moments with Michael Moore right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Michael Moore, proud member of the Writers Guild. I get word that there's advanced meetings this weekend.

MOORE: Actually, a meeting has been called that I and other writers will attend.

KING: Where do you stand in this rodeo?

MOORE: Well, it's very sad that the studios walked away from the table months ago, didn't negotiate in good faith. I don't know if the America public really understands the issues are involved. One of the issues is, you know, we receive for every DVD sold something like two and a half cents or it's actually one-tenth of one penny for every dollar of DVD sales. It's absolutely a nothing sort of residual.

Over that, just asking for a third of a penny more per dollar, they walk away, over that and new media issues that aren't covered right now. I'm thinking, for a couple of pennies, this town has been shut down for the last three or so months. I was -- frankly, if this isn't resolved this Saturday and if the studios are claiming that they're that poor that they can't afford to give the writers two extra cents, I'm going to start a penny drive across America, asking people at home to send their pennies to Rupert Murdoch, to General Electric, all the heads of these companies, understanding that they must be broke, they can't come to any kind of --

KING: You're helping them out.

MOORE: Just help them out. Send your pennies so we get "Desperate Housewives" back on air.

KING: Why do you think management wouldn't sit down and talk?

MOORE: They want to break the union, that's why. I think they want to get rid of unions. It's happening everywhere. Only nine percent of the private work force in this country belongs to a union now. That has been the trend since Mr. Reagan and the air traffic controllers. Again, 27 years of this right-wing with Wall Street coming together. You know, I'm happy to see them now split apart and fighting each other.

And, you know, people need to stand up for their rights. We were talking about this with your crew here on the break, about how hard it is for them to get by.

KING: Do you feel optimistic about your country?

MOORE: Absolutely. There's no way I could keep doing this if I wasn't optimistic. I'm not a cynic. I really believe that we are a good people and once we have the information, we do the right thing. But it's hard to get the information sometimes, whether it's through the media or from our politicians, about what's really going on. But once we figure it out, you know, we might be a little slow on the uptake sometimes, but we then end up doing the right thing.

So I do remain optimistic. People are going to have to stand up and get involved. It can't just be about Obama and Clinton. It's about who's running for Congress in your town. It's those other offices, too. This has to happen from the ground up, not from the top down. And I think that's what's going to happen. I saw it with "Sicko." I saw it with the movie where people came to the theater, 47 million people who are uninsured.

The mail I got after that movie, Larry, the stories, you could do show after show of stories of people, what they've had to go through, people who actually have insurance, not just the people without insurance, suffering and trying to make a go of it in this country. They're Americans and we are all in this boat together. If we just ignore them, you know, because people like maybe you and I do well and forget them, that's the most un-American thing to do.

KING: How far along are you on the new project?

MOORE: Well, I'm about halfway through it right now, and, you know, it should be out sometime next year.

KING: You get well financed, don't you, now?

MOORE: I have no problem getting money from the studios that I say nothing but bad things about.

KING: Because they're interested in making a dollar.

MOORE: That is the fatal flaw of capitalism. You know the old saying, the capitalist will sell you the rope to hang himself with. They will continue to fund my projects as long as people go to my movies or buy my books. There they will be to let me -- also, let me just say, they also know -- they believe, that the American people who are listening to me right now won't rise up off the sofa and do something about it, so I'm not really a threat, so they can go ahead and fund me.

They'll stop funding me when people watching this get involved and say, no more of this.

KING: See you soon, Michael.

MOORE: Or not.

KING: Michael Moore. We've got another good one for you tomorrow, an alleged confession from the man who was the prime suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. Her mom, the informant and the reporter who broke the story together on LARRY KING LIVE Thursday night.

To always see what's going on on our show, head to CNN.com/LarryKing. You can download our current podcast, the Reagan I knew, or check out our King of Politics section. That's CNN.com/LarryKing. Here's Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?

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