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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview with Governor Bill Richardson; Interview With Lewis Black

Aired March 24, 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 battle royale -- did New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson betray the Clintons by supporting Barack Obama?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CARVILLE, CLINTON SUPPORTER: And it was quoted accurately and -- but it had its desired intent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Harsh words in a hostile campaign.

Are the Democrats dividing?

Can the Republicans conquer?

And why is Lewis Black laughing about it?

March Madness -- election edition.

It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

We begin with Governor Bill Richardson. He's in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is the governor of the great state of New Mexico.

Are you surprised, Governor, at the flak you've gotten over the Obama endorsement?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, from some of the Clinton people, yes, because I felt that I very strongly considered this decision for several months. And I was always up front. And I made my decision based on the fact that I think Obama is the best person to be president because he can bring people together. And it's unfortunate that we Democrats are fighting -- Obama and Clinton and then surrogates.

I want to keep it clean. My reason for endorsing Obama was that I felt that we Democrats can't continue this bloodletting until the Democratic convention, that we have to come together.

KING: All right.

The Clinton supporter and CNN political analyst, James Carville, slammed your endorsement over the weekend in "The New York Times" and reiterated it on CNN today.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARVILLE: That's exactly what I said. And by the way, I think the quote had the desired intent.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": What was that?

CARVILLE: That people saw Richardson and saw somebody who was disloyal.

BLITZER: So you're not backing away at all from...

CARVILLE: No. No.

BLITZER: ...calling him a...

CARVILLE: Of course not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right, he called you a Judas.

How do you react to that?

RICHARDSON: Well, you know, I said that I don't want to get into the gutter like that. I want to stay positive. I think it's going to hurt his own candidate. You know, recent poll numbers show that Obama has moved up because of his speech on race. Maybe the endorsement helped a little bit. I just want to stay positive. This was the reason, Larry, that I made the endorsement, that the time has come -- very soon, after the next 10 primaries that are coming up -- Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Oregon, states like that -- that the party come together and select the nominee based on who has the most delegates, based on who has the most states won, who has the most voters, popular vote -- and that we move on and get ready for a very tough general election against Senator McCain, who is right now raising money, who's being a statesman around the world, who's even going into Democratic territory -- California -- to get votes.

I did this for party unity and I did this because I believe honestly that Obama has the intellect, the judgment, the competence and the enormous ability to bring people together. I saw it in Portland, Oregon -- 12,000 people -- young people, old people, a lot of new people coming into politics with their faces and expressions of hope and enthusiasm cling to every word. This guy has something very good that I think we should take advantage of.

KING: When you were in the Clinton administration in various posts, you appeared on this program many times. And I know you were close to the Clintons. You watched the Super Bowl with Bill Clinton in that historic picture.

Was it emotionally -- I understand intellectually -- was it emotionally difficult for you to do?

RICHARDSON: Well, it was. I've already stated that right after that Super Bowl, I was about to endorse Senator Clinton. But something in me said wait a little bit, wait a little bit, wait for more primaries, see where things are. I really wanted to make the decision based on who was the most positive, who could bring the country together.

It was a very difficult decision. All day, the day I decided to go to Portland -- the day before -- calling Senator Clinton. It was a painful call. It was a wrenching decision. But you know you can't let personal issues, Larry -- and the president was good to me, but I was also good to him. I served this country well. I defended him when he was in trouble.

And when I was a congressman, I was already doing some of these international missions. And I've been a governor who has been shaped in his career by a good experience with President Clinton, but I've had some achievements as a good governor in many other areas on my own.

KING: By a narrow margin, Hillary won the New Mexico caucuses. You're a super-delegate.

Are you committed to how your citizens voted or how you will vote?

RICHARDSON: Well, first of all, she won, but by less than 1 percent. It took about two weeks. So I think there's a case to be made that New Mexico was divided.

I'm also a Western governor. Larry, I think that super-delegates should reflect their region, they should reflect their state. They shouldn't try to be big shots because they were appointed because they're fundraisers, fat cats, governors.

I think the vote of the primary states -- super-delegates should not trump voters. But I am a super-delegate. There are 800 of them. I hope we reform the super-delegate process and get rid of half of them.

Why do we need 800 super-delegates out of 4,000 delegates that you need to get nominated?

It should be the votes of people in the states, not the fat cats of the party.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Debbie in Queen Creek, Arizona: "Have you been offered a position in the Obama administration if he is elected?"

RICHARDSON: No. And that never came up. People speculated about that. Plus, I have a campaign debt and I didn't ask anybody to help me with that. It's a manageable debt. But no, I did this despite the fact of my admiration to the Clintons -- to President Clinton, to Senator Clinton. But you know, I did run against her. I do feel, Larry, that, you know, other people -- a new generation of leadership -- that it shouldn't just be, you know, President Bush then President Clinton then President Bush then President Clinton. You know, there are other major figures in the party -- many experienced -- that didn't do well, like myself, like Biden, like Dodd and now Obama, who brings change and is such a fresh voice that a new generation of leadership needs to be given the exposure that they deserve.

And so it was a really tough decision for me.

KING: Will you have a nominee before Denver?

RICHARDSON: We need to. If we don't, there's going to be bloodletting. We're going to be headed into several months of discontinuous sniping -- these personal attacks that you see almost every day. We're going to be weakened. We're going to be divided. You know, the issues are with us. We should with talking about the fact that there's 4,000 American deaths in Iraq and there's no plan to disengage with diplomacy. The fact that the economy and gas prices and people are losing their homes and people don't have health care and pre-existing conditions and veterans are coming home without mental health help. That's what we should be talking about. Those are Democratic issues because this administration has failed.

Instead, we're sniping at each other, calling each other's Judas, you know, McCarthyism. We should be talking about the issues. This is a tailor-made election for Democrats and it's important that we come together before Denver -- a lot before Denver.

KING: Always good seeing you, governor.

Thanks so much.

RICHARDSON: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Governor Bill Richardson in Santa Fe.

Should Governor Richardson have endorsed Obama or should he have stayed loyal to the Clintons?

That's the quick vote right now on our Web site, CNN.com/larryking. You can head there right now and vote.

We're off to the a great start. It's only going to get better.

Our political panel is here right after the break.

And then one of the funniest people alive.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: It's time to talk politics.

Joining us here in New York, Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary for President Bush.

And Jamal Simmons, the Democratic strategist, president of New Future Communications and a supporter of Barack Obama.

In Los Angeles, Amy Holmes, the Republican strategist and CNN political analyst.

And our old friend in Orlando, Florida, Lanny Davis. He was special counsel to President Clinton. He's a supporter of Hillary Clinton, has known her since law school. He is not an official member of the Clinton campaign.

As kind of an outsider looking in, Ari, what do you make of all of this?

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY, GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I think we have a 50/50 country and even a fiftier/fiftier Democratic primary voter right now, which is just remarkable. The voters keep saying they don't want this thing to end and the super- delegates are tugged and torn and they're right in between. They don't really know what they're going to do yet.

KING: Will they come together?

Is that -- the history is they do.

FLEISCHER: Well, I think because they all understand that they don't want to go to Denver with a divided party. And so the logic is that sometime after it's over, while Barack Obama still has a sizable lead over Hillary -- even if she gets hot at the end here -- the super-delegates will gather informally and just start to break -- break for Barack Obama because he's in first place and he's so exciting, fresh and new for the Democrats.

That's the best guess. But, Larry, I don't rule out that they're not going to be able to do that, particularly if Hillary does get hot and it does force them it to get to a very difficult convention in Denver.

KING: Amy Holmes, frankly, do the Republicans enjoy this?

AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they're watching this with a lot of curiosity and, you know, with some enjoyment, to see that the Democrats -- particularly in the case of Democrats finding out that the Clintons will do anything. You know, that's what Republicans have been saying for years. And, you know, going into this, the Democrats were saying that, oh, you're going to hear Republicans trying to use the race card, you're going to hear Republicans attacking the Democrats on patriotism.

But we're finding out in this primary that Democrats are able to do that all by themselves.

KING: Lanny, was Governor Richardson a Judas?

LANNY DAVIS, SPECIAL COUNSEL, PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, SUPPORTS CLINTON: I don't think so. I disagree with my friend James. I don't question the sincerity of Governor Richardson. He made his own decision. I'd like him to be a little bit more consistent.

I also would like to say that Amy didn't name a single fact to back up her personal attack. We'll come back to the absence of facts when we hear that kind of rhetoric.

But Governor Richardson makes a very good point, but he doesn't seem to be even-handed in his application of principles. Number one, democracy is important, yet he doesn't honor democracy in his own state, which both he and Janet Napolitano should be supporting Hillary Clinton because she carried both states. Ted Kennedy and John Kerry should be supporting Hillary Clinton. She won by 15 percent in Massachusetts. So should Governor Patrick.

So these are inconsistent rules being applied here.

Secondly, on divisiveness, here are the words the Obama campaign -- supposedly the non-divisive campaign that Bill Richardson phrases -- has used about Hillary Clinton in the last several days: "disingenuous, dishonest, divisive, untruthful, polarizing" and attacking Bill Clinton as being a McCarthyite.

These are not issues. This is Barack Obama, on the one hand, talking about unity; on the other hand, engaging in personal attacks...

KING: OK...

DAVIS: ...which Hillary Clinton has not done in her campaign. She's talked about issues.

KING: Jamal?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Well, it's funny that now that divisive and polarizing is considered to be negative campaign words -- negative campaigning. You know, you look at this situation with Bill Richardson and the one thing that occurs to me, if Bill Richardson is supposed to be Judas, which one of the Clintons does James Carville think is Jesus Christ?

(LAUGHTER)

SIMMONS: I'm just not sure.

The other point about this -- the other point about this is if Bill Clinton -- Bill Clinton was the one who appointed Bill Richardson to be those two cabinet posts, not Hillary Clinton. So if there's any loyalty issue, it's toward Bill Clinton. Under the rules that they're trying to establish, that means that everybody who ever worked -- everybody who ever worked for Bill Clinton now has to support anybody named Clinton...

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS: ...who ever wants to run for president. Does that mean we're going to be forced to support Chelsea when she decides to run 20 years from now?

KING: Jamal, how about Lanny's point that they -- if you're from the state that supported one candidate, you as a super-delegate should also support them?

SIMMONS: Well, what the Obama campaign has said is that the super-delegates should reflect the will of the people and how that's represented, not necessarily the will of each individual state or each individual Congressional district.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMMONS: So the will of the people is clearly going toward Barack Obama, as he's won 30 states to Hillary's 11 or 12. He's won more popular votes, more delegates.

So in that case, I think the super-delegates that are siding with him...

KING: Ari...

SIMMONS: ...are siding with the will of the people.

KING: Ari, if "it's the economy, stupid" -- a Carville famous quote -- a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll says 75 percent of Americans say economic conditions are poor.

FLEISCHER: Yes.

KING: Doesn't that automatically lead you to think they're going to throw out the party that's in?

FLEISCHER: Well, it would make you think that, but look what's going on. John McCain has no business being as close as he is. And, in fact, he's leading Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in most polls.

There's something that the American people are finding very wrong with both Hillary and Barack Obama's candidacies, yet still very right about John McCain's.

And what's fascinating is I don't think Mitt Romney or any of the other Republicans would have been in this position. John McCain, because of his maverick nature, his split with George Bush on so many issues -- from global warming to Guantanamo -- he's got the center. And he is able to do something in a very bad environment for Republicans that you would not expect to happen this cycle.

KING: He's making a major economic address this week.

FLEISCHER: And he needs to...

KING: He'd better be on the mark, right?

FLEISCHER: He needs to open up... HOLMES: Yes, and...

FLEISCHER: ...a domestic front. He's known for foreign policy and terrorism. He needs to really show what he's got domestically.

HOLMES: And...

KING: We'll take a break and come right back and get Lanny to respond and Amy will jump in, following these words.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a president who will exercise leadership over the economy just like we need a commander-in-chief who will end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And if you are ready for change, then we can go ahead and tell the lobbyists and the fat cats in Washington their days of setting the agenda are over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, my friends, for the first time, I have seen Osama bin Laden and General Petraeus in agreement -- and that is the central battleground in the battle against Al Qaeda is in Iraq today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Lanny Davis, a McCain adviser, Rick Davis, says that so far in this election cycle, all the energy has been on the Democratic side.

Can that keep up?

DAVIS: I like Rick Davis' last name, by the way.

Look, here's the good news. My friend, Ari Fleischer -- and he is a friend -- shouldn't be so happy looking down the road. The good news is if you look at Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, I think Hillary Clinton will be our nominee. I think she's the most qualified.

But look at the two of them. Name an issue where there's serious disagreement. They both want to get out of Iraq, they both think that this economy has been mismanaged, they both believe in universal health care. I believe in Hillary's plan over Barack's, but they are close.

There's essential agreement on the major issues facing this country. And if you look at the polls, even my friend Ari would say we're on the right side of those issues and John McCain is on the wrong side.

I happen to respect John McCain greatly and I think...

FLEISCHER: Then why aren't you winning?

DAVIS: I think -- well, it's very, very close. You're absolutely right, Ari, as you often are. We have a divided country. And we'll look at October and you and I will both decide where is the flow going...

FLEISCHER: But, Lanny, you should...

DAVIS: ...if the economy is just as bad...

FLEISCHER: ...be up by about 10 points right now.

DAVIS: Well, I don't know, in this stage, who should be up. But I think if the economy is where we are in October and we're still bogged down in Iraq, I think the Democratic candidate will win. And we will have a unified party because we agree on issues. The personality stuff going on right now is going to be less important when we all come together after the convention on issues.

KING: Jamal will respond, but first Amy.

Amy, do you want to respond to Lanny?

And then Jamal.

HOLMES: Absolutely. This is where I guess I get to jump in.

Something that Democrats should be worried about, however, is Pew, for example, found that among self-identification, the Democratic name brand is going up as compared to Republicans. That should be good news for Democrats.

But if you look at individual states like North Carolina, for example, John McCain -- his name brand is doing much better than Republicans and he's up by healthy, healthy double digits over Clinton or Obama. And this is before Democrats get into a major meltdown over the next few states, with Barack Obama battling Hillary Clinton.

And the point I would make to Lanny about the differences between the candidates, I think that's contributing to the nastiness between the candidates -- that they don't disagree on major policy points. So they're disagreeing over things like race and the role of race in this election, the role of gender, personality, who can bring people together, who's a uniter, who's a divider. And unfortunately -- for Democrats, anyway -- I think that's leading to a nastier campaign, not a better one.

KING: Jamal?

SIMMONS: Larry, we should just remember -- back to Ari's points about why Democrats aren't winning. We should remember that there's a -- in 1992, Bill Clinton was in third place in June of 1992...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ross Perot was ahead.

SIMMONS: ...behind Ross Perot and came back and won that election. So I think this notion of where people are in June doesn't have much relevance to where they'll be in November.

In the same sense, this notion in our primary about who's winning which primary states, whether big states or small states, has no relevance to who wins those states come November.

Let's all remember that in 2000, Al Gore won New Hampshire and George Bush lost New Hampshire to John McCain. But in the general election, George Bush won New Hampshire against Al Gore. So it doesn't matter if you win a state in the primary, you -- it doesn't mean anything about what's going to happen in November.

DAVIS: Larry?

KING: Yes?

DAVIS: I would agree with Jamal, but the battleground states are what Democrats need to focus on and let's wait to see what happens in Pennsylvania. And you're going to find Hillary Clinton winning Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and already showing strength in Florida and Michigan.

KING: OK...

DAVIS: That's where we need to win.

KING: All right...

DAVIS: And right now Barack Obama has shown weakness in those battleground states.

KING: Ari, what do you make of Florida and Michigan?

FLEISCHER: Well, I think...

KING: What do they do with that dilemma?

FLEISCHER: I think if they do anything to give people those votes, then wait until 2012 and you're going to have everybody move their primaries up to 2011. What is the...

SIMMONS: Ari's right.

(LAUGHTER)

FLEISCHER: What's the purpose...

SIMMONS: Ari's right.

FLEISCHER: What's the purpose of having rules if they don't enforce them? KING: Why not have the election a year earlier?

FLEISCHER: Well, sure.

(LAUGHTER)

FLEISCHER: I mean we can -- you know, George Bush was so early for meetings he used to say he'd be done in seven years, not eight. But...

(LAUGHTER)

FLEISCHER: The point is, if you're going to be a party that's known for rules, you have to stick by your rules. And the Democrats are getting a little lax about this. They'd prefer to have the right outcome rather than the right rules.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, there's some (INAUDIBLE)...

FLEISCHER: And everybody's got to live the same way. And so I really don't have a lot of sympathy for this debate. And I think, frankly, when it comes to November, this is such an exciting race that the Democrats are going to show up in November no matter what that poll says.

KING: And those voters will vote in Florida and in Michigan?

FLEISCHER: Yes. They're sending signals right now. I can't really imagine the excitement of this waning.

KING: Who will be at the convention?

FLEISCHER: Oh, well, that's a different matter. They might seat them and not give them votes. It depends. If Barack Obama has the super-delegates breaking for him going in, then he'll seat them, of course, because he's got the outcome in the bag and he doesn't want to alienate anybody. But if it still is undetermined going in there, they can't let Florida or Michigan vote.

How could they?

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS: It's going to be the first time in my life I agree with everything Ari Fleischer just said.

KING: Anyway, Jamal...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Is there any way, Jamal, this could get brokered so bad that there's a third party in the wings?

SIMMONS: Well, you do hear from some Democrats who are concerned that if...

KING: Al Gore.

SIMMONS: ...Barack Obama is torn down to the point where he cannot win in the fall, that Hillary Clinton should not be rewarded for that. And so maybe there is a third option. Maybe Al Gore becomes a third option because the convention...

FLEISCHER: Oh, I'd love Al Gore to run again.

SIMMONS: ...the convention would be so split. I don't think it's going to get that far. I think we'll get to June, Barack Obama will still be ahead in all the measures. We've got some super duper delegates like Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid who haven't voiced their opinion (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Amy, which of these two, as a Republican, do you fear the most?

HOLMES: Well, you know, that's really hard to weigh. I think the Jeremiah Wright situation for Barack Obama is very serious. I think it will be very serious for him in the general election. But then you look at Hillary Clinton and her, you know, favorable/unfavorable numbers are, for a Republican, you know, quite favorable. I mean she's between 49 and 51 percent of the electorate...

KING: So who do you fear?

HOLMES: ...says they will never, ever, ever vote for her ever.

So who do you fear the most?

KING: Yes.

HOLMES: In a certain sense, maybe Hillary Clinton because, you know, as she says, she has been vetted. We do know that she is indefatigable. She will go after this tooth and nail. She's someone who's not going to let the rules get in her way.

so possibly Hillary. But I think it's a toss up at this point.

DAVIS: Hey, Larry, real quick. Right now the national polls, today, Hillary Clinton is beating John McCain by a narrow margin and she's ahead where Barack Obama is. I agree with Michelle, maybe for the first time, that...

HOLMES: Amy. My name's Amy.

DAVIS: Amy. Excuse me. Amy.

HOLMES: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIS: I agree with Amy that Hillary Clinton, in the polls -- polling data shows that about one fourth of Democrats are defecting to McCain if Obama is the candidate. They may be the generation of the children of Reagan Democrats. That's what I fear about Obama's candidacy.

KING: Thank you all very much.

And, Amy, don't take it badly.

DAVIS: Sorry Amy.

KING: (INAUDIBLE) have missed on a few names.

HOLMES: That's quite all right.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Think you've heard it all tonight?

Well, Lewis Black will have the last laugh when LARRY KING LIVE returns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEWIS BLACK: On the root of all evil. Our battle is between Donald Trump and Viagra -- stiff and stiffer.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACK: The root of all evil is Oprah.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: What an appropriate booking; Lewis Black joins us, the comic who's moderator of a new series "Root of All Evil" on Comedy Central. It also showed on HBO, right?

LEWIS BLACK, COMEDIAN: No. No, but try. If you work on it.

KING: And he's the author of the upcoming book, "Me of Little Faith." And there, for the first time ever, you see its cover. So Lewis, did you observe the first half hour?

BLACK: Phenomenal. Just phenomenal.

KING: In what way?

BLACK: Really a special time for me to talk about what people might do if and when they do -- what was -- why? Why do you have the -- why do you have them on? Why do I have to hear their interpretations of the -- it's spin. How do you listen to this much spin without losing your mind? (INAUDIBLE)

They're bright, you know, maybe once a week. You know, I was watching the crawl out of desperation. I finally figured out why that's on there. They don't have it on, good.

KING: No, they have it on. BLACK: Oh, I don't see it. Politics, don't get him started! You don't need that. Just get it off! Get it off! Why do they do that?

KING: The crawl?

BLACK: Do they think that people out there are just so dumb that they don't get it. Do they go, gee, Larry started him on politics and Lewis got excited, but we have to explain to the audience why Lewis is getting excited, that it's something else that's occurred.

No, I thought it's utterly fascinating. You know, Bill Richardson's called the Judas. Now we spend a whole day on this. And why -- I'm surprised you didn't have on two -- a Catholic minister to discuss the meaning and the implication of the Judas comment.

KING: But you're very politically involved. You're very -- come on.

BLACK: Yes, I am. I'm politically involved to the point of a stroke at this point. That's where politics takes me. They destroyed --

KING: I'll name some people, you tell me what you think of them.

BLACK: OK, let's do it.

KING: Hillary!

BLACK: Oh, boy. Could she -- ambition. Ambition to the point of distraction, like exhausting ambition. Like, who's got that kind of energy? Like, who wants it that much? What could she be thinking? Why -- why -- what's really irritating is the two of them both. You know, they care so much about our country that they're going to kill each other to prove how much they love this country, because we won't be -- we won't be going in the right direction unless we pick one of them!

How can two people who agree that much, who talk about public service, act this way! It's just -- the Democrats, given the opportunity of a total leadership -- I don't care if it's John McCain or Oswald Rabbit -- there's something to look up. Why don't you put that on the bottom? Oswald Rabbit is a cartoon character from the '50s.

You've got -- you're got total leadership -- the Democrats in response go, oh, look, I'm going to kill myself. I'm going to put this knife here and I'm going to put it here, and put it here, and here, and you know what? You can't make a canoe out of me either. It's unbelievable.

KING: Barack Obama!

BLACK: Barack Obama, I don't like hope. OK?

KING: You don't like hope? BLACK: Both of us, we're too old for hope. Do you really -- what hope?

KING: What we live for.

BLACK: No, hope is what you live for when you're a kid and it's like, oh, today could be a great day because I've got a billion left! Mine is now like -- breakfast? Lunch is going to be good. Tell me we'll make it to next week.

Don't give me hope, not after this president. I don't need to get vertigo. We are in such dire straits. (INAUDIBLE) We're going to be lucky if -- I'll be lucky if we have cents on the dollar. That's hope! Hope at our age is, there's a door open and you see the word and you see it and it goes hope, and you walk toward it and somebody slams the door.

KING: So there's no hope, is what you're saying for us?

BLACK: No, there is, but don't preach it.

KING: John McCain.

BLACK: Oh, boy. The year 2000, you have the opportunity of electing George Bush, what kind of governor of Texas. They meet like twice a year in Texas. Or you have the possibility of electing John McCain when he was sane, when he was a sane man, really, like spectacularly sane. And then they go, well, let's wait until he loses his mind, until he's got to pander to every idiot in sight.

And he's got Bush -- how does he allow Bush, after what those people did to him and his wife in South Carolina, to put his arm around him? The mind just reels. Come on, just -- who -- what -- everybody goes, well, people don't really want to be president. Well, where do these people come from?

KING: What do you make of the Bush presidency?

BLACK: I have never in my lifetime -- you know, you live through Watergate and -- I was in my 20s and I'm -- I'm watching Watergate. I'm building the log cabin -- this will come as a shock to millions -- in the upper peninsula of Michigan with friends. And literally, every day we have a TV up there and we've got this concrete slab and we're watching John Dean. I'm thinking, how could it get worse?

And we've gone miles beyond anything I imagined. There's no economy. There's no -- there's an insanity -- it's like you've got a vice president who says, well, 70 percent or 67 percent of the American people don't think that the war is right at this point. They think we should get out. What do you say? So! He said so! So, that's the answer! He can't even give us a statement, maybe a paragraph?

It would have been just as well if he just started singing "Doe, a Deer, a Female Deer," it would have been a better answer.

KING: We're going to take a break now.

BLACK: Oh, good, get that crawl up!

KING: We'll be right back with Lewis Black. His new series is "Root of All Evil." It's very funny. His new book is "Me of Little Faith." We'll return. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: Which keeps you younger longer, weed or beer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beer.

BLACK: Wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then I must be when I say weed.

BLACK: Absolutely, 35 years ago, Willie Nelson looked eighty. Now, he looks 82.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: On one hand, Trump, a supposed financial genius, couldn't even make money with a casino. All you have to do is turn on the lights, open the doors, and get the hell out of the way.

Unlike Greg, I think it's great that my parents are able to enjoy sex at the age of 89. It keeps them from calling me. Thank you, Viagra.

So I say, by god, the "Root of All Evil" is Donald Trump!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Lewis Black. His book, by the way, coming soon, is "Me of Little Faith." This election cycle has produced a lot of pundits who were wrong, wrong about primaries, wrong. What do you think of pundits?

BLACK: I think they're failed comics.

KING: Failed comics?

BLACK: Yes, in the way it's evolved. Remember, "Crossfire" came on the air. There are all of these shows that have come on. Initially, what a pundit is supposed to do, like Jeff Greenfield does and -- for you guys, and there's occasionally there's the guys that really do the job. He's one that comes to mind immediately. Where they come out and they kind of -- something has occurred and they are so bright that they're able to open for us a way of thinking about things; go, oh, I haven't thought of that.

KING: Correct.

BLACK: Now it's like, all they do -- a lot of them just look for a punch line, or they're like -- or they're creepy, you know, like Carville (INAUDIBLE) he's a Judas. What? That's not punditry. What is that? There's just a whole bunch of that stuff going on.

KING: Is there anything you like?

BLACK: What's sad is I like golf. How pathetic is that?

KING: Golf you like?

BLACK: Yes, yes. Golf is a Scottish word and it means jackass. It's golfers. It's a game for jackass.

KING: Some current things in the news. What do you make of the controversy over Reverend Wright and Barack Obama?

BLACK: What would be interesting, because I haven't seen it, is to actually see what he said before and what he said after, as opposed to the tape loop on Youtube. If Youtube, which has become like, oh, it's on Youtube. Oh, it must be right!

First off, how do we know -- of course, they probably didn't -- but how did we know somebody didn't doctor this to begin with. I would like to know what led up to him losing his mind, and I would like to know what came out of it. Because I, on stage, on occasion have said things, even I've had to stop and go -- turn to the audience and go, I am insane. I apologize. I've just gone insane.

And I would wonder what he said after, that maybe we don't know that. And I think that -- here's the other thing; I don't care who -- I don't care about anybody's religion. I don't care. I don't care.

KING: At all?

BLACK: Why! Why would you care? I don't care what they believe. I just don't. Why is it become -- well, I believe this, and I believe that? Watching them march into church, stop it! Just stop it! It gives me a headache that somehow -- one of the reasons that people say, you should run for president, Lewis, because -- and that's because that's how sad things are, that one of the things I'd have to be is I'd have to go back to temple. I'd go, oh, I'll be at temple on Saturday, why don't you get me on camera.

I can't do it. Why do we think it's so -- they show him saying this stuff that's nuts, and meanwhile you've got all of those guys going into churches where they're saying the Earth was created in seven days. Well, uh, how nuts is that? How crazy is that? They don't show someone standing in the Baptist church talking while there's two presidential candidates out there, going, you know, it's the absolute word of god, the entire Bible.

You don't know! How do you know? It's a book written by Jews. And what are we good at? We're good at B.S. That's what we're good at. KING: Our guest is Lewis Black. And now I'm going to ask Anderson Cooper to top that. Anderson is standing by. He will host "A.C. 360" at the top of the hour.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: How do I follow Lewis Black? That's tough. Coming up at the top of the hour on 360, actually, breaking news about what Hillary Clinton said and now seems to be taking back about what really happened on her trip to Bosnia in 1996. She said she took sniper fire on the tarmac there. But now a video of her landing and now Mrs. Clinton herself say otherwise. All of this has become an issue because Senator Clinton has used the story touting her foreign policy experience and what she says is Senator Obama's lack of it.

We're going to bring you up to speed on the breaking news and get insight from the best political team on TV.

We'll also look at the increasingly bitter war of words between the Obama and Clinton campaigns, and a look at senator John McCain in two critical moments where he allegedly almost switched to the Democratic party. What could that mean in the general election? A lot of opinions there.

And a tragic milestone in Iraq; now 4,000 U.S. troops killed. We'll talk to Michael Ware and Peter Bergen about it. "360" at the top of the hour, Larry.

KING: Anderson Cooper, a lot of -- If this were fiction, nobody would buy it. Anderson Cooper, "AC 360," at 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. Back with Lewis Black after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: In 2000, Dick Cheney was selected as George Bush's vice president by the chair of the Vice Presidential Selection Committee, Dick Cheney. Apparently, Vice President Cheney spends time with his twin brother in an underground lake.

She has lent her name to a perfume, a clothing line, a book, a chain of nightclubs, and a large city in France. She also has time to eat a hamburger, wash her car, drive that car illegally and go to jail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's all from "Root of All Evil" on Comedy Central. We'll take a call in a minute and a couple questions, key questions.

BLACK: Yes.

KING: We're going to get a kind of rebate from the government May 1st, 600 dollars.

BLACK: Six hundred bucks. KING: Twelve hundred a family.

BLACK: Yes, it's going to roll this thing right out.

KING: Is it going to cure the ill?

BLACK: It's going to change everything.

KING: Your excited.

BLACK: Six hundred bucks? Yes, that's going to turn things around. What possible planet do these people live on? It's not only the president. It's these group of idiots in Congress. Together, they go, yes, give them a check for 600 bucks, 42 million dollars to tell the American people that the check is in the mail. OK? What kind of a punch line is that.

KING: They want you to spend it.

BLACK: Do you know what that is?

KING: Don't save it, don't pay bills, spend it.

BLACK: For 600 bucks, you know really the best you can get out of it is a cupcake a day. That's what you can get.

KING: What are you telling the public to do with the 600?

BLACK: I'm telling them, put it in the tub and sit in it every day. Put it in your mattress. Six hundred dollars, it's an insult. And what are you sending the letter for. Why don't you just come out, put it on the crawl every day! I think everybody will pick up on it. What do you think people are going to get a 600 dollar check from the U.S. government and say, oh, I'm going to send it back; this must be a mistake?

KING: Let's take a call for Lewis Black, who is out of his mind. Portland, Maine, hello. Portland, Maine, are you there? I guess they're not there.

BLACK: That worked out well. That was good.

KING: We have an e-mail question.

BLACK: Perfect. You're making this up.

KING: -- From Mark in Woodbridge, Virginia: "why did you decide to go to Afghanistan and Iraq to perform for the troops? What impact did your USO tour experience have on you?"

BLACK: I went because I thought it was really important that you -- that these guys who are over there, that you go. I don't care what you -- people say, that shows you're for the war. What kind of an idiot -- people would say that to me, I go, you're crazy. You support -- you know, they don't make policy. You go and support their -- they're always, even when they're not at war -- you go and entertain them.

KING: Did they buy your act?

BLACK: Yes, they did. The one thing I noticed, which I knew from the very beginning made me think that there was something else going on in this country other than what my president and vice president was telling me, was the military presence in my audience from the time we started the war got larger and larger and larger. And it was -- and I have a fairly sizable group, and I've now been to a number of bases, and I've been to Walter Reed, and I'll be going to Bethesda Medical in May.

I just think it's vital, and it changed the -- it totally changed the way in which I look at the military. It changed it so much so that I believe that instead of an election, Larry, I think there should be a military coupe. I think we take four years off --

KING: Let them take over?

BLACK: Let them take over. They are doing a spectacular job under circumstances that are dire at times. I've spent time talking to a number of generals, who talk to me, which is really astonishing, for more than five minutes, and I've found that they really seem to know what they're doing, much more than our politicians.

KING: So a military coup?

BLACK: Just for four years, and then we'll get back to voting again. I'm telling you, after this -- I'm telling you, and I will tell the audience, by October 1st, you will have felt that these people who are running have already been president and we might as well just move on. Enough is enough.

KING: We now have a call they tell me works. Montgomery, Illinois, hello? Are you there? Once again, they've given us a hoax.

BLACK: They're blocking it.

KING: What do you make of this Hillary flack over -- she landed in Bosnia. She took flack. She didn't take flack. The guns were overhead. They weren't overhead.

BLACK: What was she doing there in 1996? I don't care. I don't care why she had to make things up. I don't care, it's 1996. She doesn't remember. She's already -- They talk about -- I'm her age, OK. I'm already starting with senior moments, OK. I had to right down that I was coming to the Larry King show.

KING: Really, it's that bad?

BLACK: Yes, it's that bad. You know that. When this is over with, I'll have to think, where's the door.

KING: We're going to take a break and come back --

BLACK: We're going to try to see if the phones work. The crawl is working. But the phones here are just ridiculous. Has there been something -- has something gone out there that we should know about?

KING: We'll be right back. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: By the way, big news; Lewis Black this fall coming to Broadway. A one-man show on Broadway. We'll let you know more about it the closer it gets. Now a major rumor, confirm or deny. You have a blog?

BLACK: No.

KING: A blog site?

BLACK: No, I will not blog. I will not blog. I refuse to blog. I hate the word blog. It sounds horrible. It sounds like a condition. I have the blog. I don't like it. What really scares me is that just because you can type on a screen doesn't give you legitimacy as an authority on anything.

KING: So anyone can blog, right?

BLACK: Everybody does. All of a sudden there's a the (INAUDIBLE) movie site. The first time I did these movies, we would go into a room and they would go, well, we have "Time." We have "Newsweek." We've got the "Houston Chronicle." And we've got Hoopy Beshtreky (ph), who writes this MyFavoriteMovie.com. And I go, why? Very influential. I just want to know what is it -- you used to have to put a degree up when you walk into an office.

KING: Do you read blogs every day?

BLACK: No, I can't. I don't like reading things on a screen, do you?

KING: No, I like the paper.

BLACK: I need the paper, especially in the bathroom. Who can sit with a screen in the bathroom?

KING: Can anyone go to the bathroom without reading?

BLACK: That would be something. There's a question that should be in "USA Today" on the bottom left.

KING: One minute left, I'm told.

(CROSS TALK)

KING: We've neglected to ask. Eliot Spitzer --

BLACK: That's it! What else do you have to say.

KING: Nothing funny about it. You can't add anything?

BLACK: What can you add? It does make you think about the 4,300 bucks, doesn't it? Forty three hundred bucks for a hooker. Boy, that got out of control. Didn't it? What could she have provided? An erotic monkey? For 4,300 bucks, I tell you, you come in; you spend time with a hooker and then she leaves, and then they bring you an entire home entertainment system. That's the deal. That's got to be the deal.

KING: Weren't you surprised that this tough governor --

BLACK: How nuts would you have to be to chase hookers and then sleep with them and then arrest them? That's like a snake eating its own tail. It's lunacy. Everybody goes, boy, I'd like to listen to -- I'd like to hear him talk to his shrink. That's the series I want to see.

KING: Lewis, my friend, thank you.

BLACK: Pleasure.

KING: Lewis Black, he is funny. "Root of All Evil" on Comedy Central, the book will be "Me of Little Faith," and he's coming to Broadway.

As always, you can head to our website, CNN.com/LarryKing. I love that slash. You can download our podcasts, Barack Obama, or participate in our quick vote. Tell us who you would like to see on LARRY KING LIVE. We call it viewers choice. We've even got a special King of Politics section.

BLACK: Wow, I can't wait to see that.

KING: It's all at CNN.com/LarryKing.

BLACK: Slash.

KING: Slash. Suze Orman and Maureen Dowd will be here tomorrow night.

BLACK: That I miss. I'm here with the guys.

KING: Throw it to Anderson.

BLACK: Anderson, it's time for you. Wake up. You got a long hour ahead. Enjoy 1996.

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