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D.L. Hughley Looks at the Humorous Side of the News

Aired February 21, 2009 - 22:00   ET


D.L. HUGHLEY, HOST: Thank you. Thank you. I am -- I am glad to still be working. I mean -- ooh, everybody's looking for a job. But it's going to get better. We're going to talk about a lot of things today. I'm going to get worked up about the peanut and the salmonella scandal and Star Jones is going to be with us today.

All right. All right.


I -- I can't wait to talk about the cartoon that ran in "The New York Post" a couple days ago. Oh yes, look at the black people, you damn right.


And how come Oscars don't nominate movies that people want to see? Like, I remember I went to -- like my wife, you should see "The Piano." And I saw "The Piano" and my eyes were bleeding. I thought this was a good movie. And

, of course, the stimulus package passed this weekend. This is a copy of the actual stimulus -- you know how we can save money? By not printing the damn stimulus package. You know how many trees had to die to get this? And everybody -- none of the congressmen look for -- none of the senators, I'm just looking for the part, where's my money? That's what I'm looking for.


And of course, some of you may have seen this yesterday, Eric Holder, our newly minted attorney general. He was giving a speech on -- for Black History Month. And he said this.


ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Simply put, to get to the heart of this country, one must examine its racial soul. Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial, we have always been and we, I believe, continue to be, in too many ways, essentially, a nation of cowards.



(LAUGHTER) I'm glad he got confirmed before he starts talking like that, huh?


I'll wait until I'm confirmed and then I'll tell you how I really feel, which is essentially cowardly, but, damn it, he did it. I'm proud of him. Already confirmed? Check. The only guy that can fire me is the black president, check.


Let me tell you cracker something, what you got to do...


Wow. And, of course, you were watching the news and you heard about the chimpanzee that attacked a neighbor in Connecticut it was, right? Her neighbor had a pet chimpanzee. He escaped. She called her friend to help her come wrangle her chimpanzee. The police -- the chimpanzee gets out of control, mauls the neighbor and is shot to death by the police.

I'm not the neighbor you call if your monkey gets loose. OK?


My monkey's loose. Well, call the police.


I just can't see it. How come only white people keep pets like that? I never understood. Like I come over, I think my parakeet got in your backyard. Like in California last year, there was a -- there was a mountain lion that attacked a 75-year-old man. His 65-year-old wife beat the mountain lion off her husband and saved his life.

Now, Sunday will be my wife and I's 23rd wedding anniversary. And I love her. But I do.


I love her very much. But if she's attacked by a mountain lion, what am I to do? I mean...


Baby, now -- I'm going to marry a 23-year-old to commemorate your life. I'm just serious.


Of course, I refer to the -- the cartoon that ran in "The New York Post." It ran an editorial cartoon and then some have come out against it and called it outrageous and racist. You may have seen this. Here are two police officers standing over the body of a chimp they shot. One of the officers says, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill." Now, I -- I'm a comedian and I have told a lot of bad jokes. I just can't understand what he thought was funny about that? I don't understand. But, you know, to each his own.

Our next guest is speaking out. He's protesting and calling for the Justice Department to investigate. Please welcome the Reverend Al Sharpton, ladies and gentlemen.


I saw the article. I was just as incensed as you are. But it reminded me of something. I thought that when I saw it, I got angry. And it occurred to me that the reason Obama is president right now is because he was above the fray a lot. He had been called everything except a child of God. He's called a terrorist. There were so many racist slurs that nobody could count them. And he was above them all.

I only -- I doubt that he'll even comment on this right now. And I think that this is an opportunity for us to learn as much as we -- as much as we can. Because I don't think that anything that we can do -- there's anything we can do except teach people that this is kind of not going to be acceptable. I don't know how you do that.

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: I agree. I think the way you teach them is by doing what we doing, and that is having everybody in a large segment of whites have joined us in this protest saying this is unacceptable.

You know I have reached out, I said "The Post" should clarify this. I could not imagine what you all were trying to say over there.

HUGHLEY: Yes, I think...

SHARPTON: I said -- and they slammed back, we stand by it. Sharpton is just a publicity hound. OK, fine. So you don't want to talk. So we'll just talk to the American public using the protest. You've got to remember now, they own TV stations and newspapers. So they've got to be accountable to the public.

I think it is a chance to talk. And I have been very much encouraged by the fact that all Americans, white, black, Latino, Asian, and Senator Gillibrand who's white in the state, is conservative said this offends me. So I think it is a point where people begin to discuss it.

I remember, you can't have a year, D.L., where people can go through President Obama's former pastor sermons...


SHARPTON: ... and question his sermons, take secret tapes off the records of Jesse Jackson, where we can't discuss a public cartoon. This wasn't something we uncovered. HUGHLEY: Right.

SHARPTON: You put it out there in the paper. So we can't question a cartoon that seems to depict the president as a monkey? No, I don't think that's fair.

HUGHLEY: Not only did it depict him as a monkey, but it said now you're going to have to come up with, like, a shot monkey.


HUGHLEY: And I think the thing that -- I really go back to this, Obama is now in Canada right now, and he's been busy. Like I have never seen a man go to work right away like that.

SHARPTON: Usually doing something else.

HUGHLEY: Everybody I know stands by the time clock and waits for the supervisor to show up.


Here he comes, I better go to work now. But he's working hard and he's working for jobs. So I think that this is clearly something he -- I'm sure he won't comment on it.

SHARPTON: And I hope he doesn't. And that's not his job. His job is to run the free world. It is activists like me that should raise these issues, like people on the other side raise issues and people like you that do the news. I don't think this is for president Obama to deal with. I think...

HUGHLEY: What do you think? What do you see the issue as? What is it?

SHARPTON: The issue is that we must have different lines of respect, that we can disagree. But when we're playing the stereotypes that offend people's race, gender or religion, that's when people should be able to say, hold it, that's not fair. Let's come back into the borders of respect.

That's all. So even if the guy at "The Post" said, well, I didn't understand it to be offensive, if that many people are offended, you didn't at least say, well, let's sit down and talk about it. But the minute you become so arrogant that you can't be corrected, then I think people have a right to hold you accountable.

HUGHLEY: You know what, you know what makes me proud?


This is a more nuanced Al Sharpton than I have seen.

SHARPTON: I'm a little more mature. I have been D.L.'d.

(LAUGHTER) HUGHLEY: I don't know what that means.

SHARPTON: It wasn't that funny.


HUGHLEY: But I think that -- that makes me proud that you're so nuanced. Because you said earlier that you gave him an opportunity to speak. You didn't just -- you know, you deposit just indict him. You want to hear what he had to say. And I think that that - the unique moment for all of us in this country is to kind of parse this thing out.

SHARPTON: And I think that you're right. I think that I would hope that we all come together, learn -- and when (INAUDIBLE), I want to be fair. They said, well, I was just getting publicity. When I was condemning hip-hop as a comedian...

HUGHLEY: Right. Right.

SHARPTON: ... using the N-word, they applauded me. So when I turn around and ask you about a cartoon, now all of a sudden I'm a bad guy? So I'm saying if I can jump on my own, which I did for saying why are you using those words? I can at least say, hey, man, that cartoon reminds me of some bad things.

Shut up, Sharpton! You are -- I mean, come on, we need to have an open dialogue about everything. And that's why I say, you and I learned how to talk.

HUGHLEY: Right. Right.

SHARPTON: I wish they would learn how to talk. And then they come kicking and screaming. But they've got to get into the American dialogue. We all need to start talking about these things.

HUGHLEY: What do you think about the end game?

SHARPTON: The end game is I think that we've got to learn how not to be so personal and learn to talk to each other, not at each other.

HUGHLEY: That's amazing. My producer came to me. And he had seen it before me and he was upset. So everybody, obviously, was upset about it. Obviously, everybody got it right away. They understand what it was. I can respect like really bad jokes, but I went, I don't know if that's funny.

SHARPTON: I didn't either. And I wanted them to explain. That was the (INAUDIBLE) of POD. We didn't get it back. So let's use it as a moment to educate the nation. Maybe they'll join the class at some point. But the nation needs to understand that we still cannot do things and then be insensitive about how people feel about it.

HUGHLEY: Reverend Al Sharpton. Thank you, sir.


HUGHLEY: Always a pleasure. Next my girl Star Jones will be here to talk turkey about peanuts.



HUGHLEY: I am -- I'm really pissed off about something this week. I'm pissed at Stewart Parnell, the president of the Peanut Corporation of America, has pleaded the Fifth during a congressional hearing on the peanut salmonella outbreak.

Take a look.


REP. GREG WALDEN (R), OREGON: I just wonder, would either of you be willing to take the lid off and eat any of these products now? Like the people on the panel ahead of you, their relatives, their loved ones did?

STEWART PARNELL, PRESIDENT, PEANUT CORPORATION OF AMERICAN: Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, on advice of my counsel, I respectfully decline to answer questions based on the protection afforded me on the U.S. Constitution.


HUGHLEY: Nine people are dead. And I have -- I know no charges are filed, but I personally think this guy, he should be held accountable for those actions. I hate what I see happening. I hate how we get so worked up about steroids. We get so worked up about octuplets but this man, willingly, from all I have seen, known that -- knew that the product that he was putting out could hurt and kill consumers.

And he takes defense. So here to talk to me about that is the lovely Star Jones. Thank you.


I'm glad to see you. But when I see stuff like that, Star, it really -- I can't understand how he can get away with something like that.

STAR JONES, FORMER PROSECUTOR: You should be ticked off. I mean the first thing, though, is when a man pleads the Fifth, we do have to respect that. Because in our United States -- the constitution says that you don't have to give testimony against yourself.

HUGHLEY: If you take steroids, you do.

JONES: OK -- well, not in a court of law. And this is the Congress. OK? So we're going to let him have his rights. And then it's our responsibility, in my opinion, to civilly and criminally get up in his butt. I think you should get in it as high as you can. (LAUGHTER)

To the point where he has to bend over and cough, if you know what I mean.

HUGHLEY: What would he be charged with, criminally?

JONES: Well -- if I were the prosecutor, you know?

HUGHLEY: And you were one.

JONES: And we were here in New York, I'd be looking at involuntary manslaughter. I think it was reckless disregard for human life. I think it was negligent homicide. If you can prove that this person knew that the product he was putting out could cause the death or serious injury to someone, and it did cause the death or serious physical injury, which we know the salmonella outbreak did, and you knew what the outcome could be, I think you could charge him for involuntary manslaughter. I know you can sue him.

HUGHLEY: But he is trying to basically negate any kind of serious event.

JONES: He's trying to cover up -- cover up for himself, I mean, which obviously is his right. And he is innocent until and unless proven guilty. You know, I'm going to say that. That's my job.

HUGHLEY: I'm curious...

JONES: I got to say that. But we do have some -- some evidence thus far. We know there were e-mails.


JONES: We know that there were e-mails...

HUGHLEY: E-mail which he -- basically said, I don't care if they're contaminated or not. Get them off the shelves.

JONES: Well, you know what he did, he got one report that said, there's salmonella in your product. He didn't like that report. He went and got somebody else to give him a report that said, OK, you don't have salmonella in your product.

Now, if I told you there's a 50/50 chance there's salmonella in that water, no matter how much you love (INAUDIBLE), I bet you don't pick it up and put it in your mouth anymore.


JONES: 50/50 shot. Would you send it out to your friends or your girlfriend or your cousin or even little bubba down the street that you don't even like anymore?

HUGHLEY: I might send it to him, though. Sorry.


JONES: OK. 50/50 shot. But that's what the point is. You know, you remember the story of the tainted products over in China?


JONES: You know, less than a month ago, they convicted those people and sentenced some of them to death. Now, I'm not advocating...

HUGHLEY: I am. I am.

JONES: ... that we become Chinese.

HUGHLEY: You have to eat peanut butter until your teeth fall out.

JONES: OK. I'm not advocating that we use a Chinese system of government or laws because, you know, they got their own issues. But I mean as serious as that was, you all remember the tainted products that went...

HUGHLEY: Mercury, right?

JONES: ... for baby formula was toxins?


JONES: The people, the dairy middle man and the executive of the corporation, who approved those products going out even after they were notified, had been convicted. Some people got the death sentence. The executive got life in prison.

HUGHLEY: Well, you know, why are people more outraged, for instance, about A-Rod and steroids than more at...

JONES: Because he's cute.


I mean, you want me to be honest, right?

HUGHLEY: I don't understand. I really don't.

JONES: 72-year-old, 73-year-old man eating peanut butter in the old folks home ain't as cute as A-Rod. And we in this country don't care unless you are cute, unless you sell tickets, unless you can sing a song, jump around and, you know, sing the ladies to get the ring on it. I mean unless it's really about pomp and entertainment.

HUGHLEY: But that is my problem. That's always been my problem. When I see this indignation, and I know that there are so many other things that are so much more important.

JONES: Absolutely.

HUGHLEY: It makes me laugh at the things he we find ourselves outraged about. JONES: You're outraged because the lady with the big lips had eight babies.


JONES: We're mad. We're really upset. But you had multiple people, older people. Think about your grandmamma and your grandfather. I mean we don't have a lot of money in our -- in this country right now. And our economic downturn, people are in the seat sitting at home.


JONES: And peanut butter on crackers is something that a lot of them enjoy. Peanut butter also is something that people, without the use of their gums, their teeth, they can usually eat and digest in a different way. But we don't care about them because they're not sexy. They don't look good on the newspaper. We don't care about them.

HUGHLEY: What -- doesn't the population at large care about them? They have a right to be protected. And they have a right to have their stories told. And to me, when I watch stuff like this, every day I come to CNN, every day, and I listen to the stories that are so sensation. When I see things like that and I watch the things that we allow corporations to do in the name of capitalism, the things that I watch them do in the name of money, it makes me sick.

It really does. It makes me sick. And then I watch them, this A-Rod thing, I can't understand. I don't give a damn what he did. Whatever he did wasn't illegal at that time. I don't -- won't argue its validity. I won't say whether it was right or wrong.

JONES: And nobody's going into the grave because of it.

HUGHLEY: No. I would say that this is more important. And I would say that people have the right to expect of the people that provide them services and goods would at least make sure they're safe. That's my only thing. At least that.

JONES: I think this -- this gentleman, if it's proven that he, Mr. Parnell, knowingly sent products out after there had been a report of taint, multiple reports of taint, I think he is just as responsible as someone who gets behind the wheel of a car after drinking too much and causes someone's a death.

HUGHLEY: Hey, wait a minute. Don't look at me like that.

JONES: I think we need to always take responsibility, and if we don't take it, somebody needs to make us.

HUGHLEY: Or we should send him tickets to China.


HUGHLEY: Star Jones, everybody. Thanks a lot.

(APPLAUSE) All right, next, we are here with teen role model Bristol Palin (INAUDIBLE).


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon at the CNN headquarters live right here in Atlanta. More "D.L. HUGHLEY BREAKS THE NEWS" in just a moment. But first we want to look at some of the headlines to tell you what's happening right now.

There's a new break in the 8-year-old murder case of Washington intern Chandra Levy. Police have told her mom Susan that an arrest is imminent. CNN has learned the suspect is a Salvadorian immigrant who's already serving time for two assaults in the Washington park where Levy's remains were found.

Former congressman Gary Condit had been questioned in the case. It was revealed he was having an affair with Levy. He was never named a suspect however.

Their states could really use the money from the $787 billion stimulus package, but the Republican governors of South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas aren't quick to put out their hands. One of them calls the plan too big and too wasteful. Another one says he may reject some of it. The nation's governors are meeting in Washington this weekend.

I'm Don Lemon. Those are your headlines. We'll be back here, 11:00 p.m. Eastern. Back to "D.L. HUGHLEY BREAKS THE NEWS" right after a quick break. See at 11:00.


HUGHLEY: OK. Here are some people in the news this week. And when I see them, I have to ask myself, what the hell were they thinking? Like, for example, here's Rush Limbaugh.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If it -- if it becomes established that the federal government and the federal government alone can manage the economy and take over the private sector, then forget it, folks, I'm looking for property in New Zealand. And I'm going to put my money in Singapore.


HUGHLEY: Hey, I hear they sell Oxycontin for almost nothing in Singapore.


And then he goes on.


LIMBAUGH: We're being told it must succeed because it's Obama's. Well, what's such a big deal about Obama? Somebody tell me.


HUGHLEY: I will. He's the president, fat (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


Here's A-Rod at a press conference this week.




HUGHLEY: Hold on a minute, I'm just waiting for the steroids to kick in.


I can't remember anything.

And this week Bristol Palin gave her first interview as a teen mom.


BRISTOL PALIN, GOV. SARAH PALIN'S DAUGHTER: I think abstinence is like -- like -- I don't know how to put it, like the main -- everyone should be abstinent whatever but it's not realistic at all.


HUGHLEY: In other words, the ladies gots to have it.


Now you all know about the chimp attack in Connecticut. Here's the local chief of police talking to the press.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He jumped on her, began biting her and mauling her.


HUGHLEY: Ooh, I was talking about Chris Brown. We'll have to get back to that interview.


Don't turn on me like that.


Wait a minute. And here is the Japanese minister of finance at a press conference.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in foreign language)


HUGHLEY: "Godzilla is real!" And this is a lady who missed her plane.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in foreign language)


HUGHLEY: "I have to get on that plane. My husband is the Japanese minister of finance, and he's drinking and he's about to get a press conference." Damn it, Godzilla is real!"

Next, we're going to find out who will sing (INAUDIBLE) in the White House press group.


HUGHLEY: A new president means a new group of eager press corps reporters trying to make a name for themselves. Take a look.



JAKE TAPPER, ABC NEWS: Disclosure forms that your nominees put out. They go to the Office of Government Ethics that somehow they're not able to e-mail or put on the Web. Is there any way we can get copies of those?

GIBBS: I will check. I don't -- I don't know how those forms are distributed.

TAPPER: If you based at the president's record, I'm sure it's something he wants to do. Question is...

GIBBS: Knowing of your crystal clarity on his opinion, I'll certainly check.

TAPPER: You don't believe in transparency?

GIBBS: Did you have another, more pertinent question?

TAPPER: I think that's pretty -- it's fairly pertinent?


HUGHLEY: Joining me now is White House press secretary during the Bush administration, Ari Fleischer. How are you doing, Ari?


HUGHLEY: Now that Jake Tapper from ABC News. Is he out of line?



FLEISCHER: This is the way it works in that move. They're all maneuvering, they're all showing a little muscle. And I thought Robert Gibbs handled it well. He handled it with a little smile. But they are feeling their way and showing who's the toughest.

HUGHLEY: Now, now, like NBC's David Gregory.


HUGHLEY: These guys, you know, he -- started out in the press room, made his name there, and now he's in charge -- running "Meet the Press." So -- do people are trying to make a name for themselves?

FLEISCHER: You bet they do. I mean, David Gregory, D.L., he started out in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I knew him a long, long time ago. He worked his way up and became a White House reporter and then became the host.

But what you have to understand is that room is a TV show. But it's not the reality. This is where they posture, they show, I'm tough, they know their editors are watching and they know their colleagues are watching. So they're going to show I'm the toughest guy. I can take down the press secretary.

HUGHLEY: Who irritated the hell out of you? Somebody...

FLEISCHER: David Gregory.

HUGHLEY: Did he?


FLEISCHER: But having said that, it's because that was TV show in that room. David was the toughest interrogator I had. But when it came time to go on the air, the man was always fair. What he put on the air was straight down the middle. So that's the bigger story about life at the White House. They can be one thing in that room. The reality is when they come into your office 10 times a day, they're talking to you privately, they're gathering facts and background information, that's the real work that goes on.

And most of them actually are pretty polite at that point in their lives. If they're not so polite...

HUGHLEY: No, because everybody's watching. Now did you ever get the sense, or were you ever aware that you were misleading any of the press members? Did you know when I'm telling something, this is telling the press something I don't believe?

FLEISCHER: No, there are all kinds of ways not to answer people's questions and I would regularly not answer people's questions.


People would say to me after September 11, can you confirm we have special forces on the ground in Afghanistan? You know I'm not going to answer questions like that. They say to me, Bush is in a negotiation. What would be the final product he'd accept? I'm not going to negotiate on TV.


FLEISCHER: So all kinds of things they ask, my job is not to answer. But you can't lie. You're dead if you lie, and you should be.

HUGHLEY: When I watch you speak for the president, you seem very earnest. I talked to Scott McClellan, he seemed very earnest. But did you get the sense that some of the things that he was saying the American people weren't going to buy? Did you think any of that at any time?

FLEISCHER: Well, I always thought there were things that he was doing that was stuff and the American people might not go along. Now, remember, I was there at the beginning of the administration.


FLEISCHER: It was a different era for George Bush. And as time went on, it got a lot, lot harder for him.

HUGHLEY: Why? Why harder?

FLEISCHER: Because we were wrong about weapons of mass destruction being in Iraq. If he had been right and we found stockpiles, as bad as the war turned out to be, much worse than we all thought it would be, I think most Americans would still say, well, I didn't like going to war but thank god we stopped Saddam from using those.

HUGHLEY: When you found out...

FLEISCHER: We were wrong.

HUGHLEY: I don't know that I've ever heard anybody associated with the president say that. I just don't know. But when you found out you were wrong...


HUGHLEY: ... how did that make you feel? You know that you have been part in parcel of the war? So...

FLEISCHER: You just scratch your head. How can we be wrong? It wasn't just us who thought he had weapons of mass destruction.


FLEISCHER: The Egyptians thought it, the French thought it, the Germans thought it, the United Nations thought it. Bill Clinton, CIA thought it. We all thought it. Saddam was the big liar here. He put up a whole myth to act like he had them, in part, to bluff us and in part to bluff Iran. And we picked up that bluffing. We picked it up on the electronic intercepts.

People say George Bush is a liar. No. He was telling what he was told by our CIA. Saddam was the liar.

HUGHLEY: Do you think that the president -- now obviously, I heard him called a liar, but did you sense a change in him after that, after we knew that there were no weapons, did you sense that he was gun shy?

FLEISCHER: I think as his administration went on, he became increasingly unpopular, he became increasingly chasant (ph), he became increasingly less -- in his rhetoric, where he used to talk about wanted dead or alive.


FLEISCHER: It was tough guy talk. He started to tone that down and out substantially. It was too late by then. And it was because of the facts on the ground, not because of the rhetoric he was using.

HUGHLEY: Right, right. You see Obama coming in. Very popular.

FLEISCHER: I see that.



Right. He's very popular.


HUGHLEY: Do you think that there's anything he can learn from the Bush administration?

FLEISCHER: Well, most important thing in public life is to stand by your principles and act on them. This is what attracts people to you. Because you might be right, you might be wrong. Nobody's smart enough to really know. But if people think you're sincere, it comes from your heart, people will back you up. And that's why George Bush won in 2004.

Iraq wasn't going so well...

HUGHLEY: You think that that's...

FLEISCHER: ... but a lot of people said he beat John Kerry in the election, and one of the reasons was people said, I may not agree with everything you stand for but at least I know you take strong positions and you mean it. That carries a lot of weight in politics. It's called sincerity.

HUGHLEY: I always thought that he -- he never wanted to be responsible. Like you want to win but when you lose, you don't want to say I'm responsible for losing. And you always seem to be so earnest that you couldn't -- you didn't seem like you could stand for that.


HUGHLEY: It just seemed like at a certain point you just didn't want to be that.

FLEISCHER: You can't do the press secretary job if your heart isn't going to -- if you don't believe in your boss. I can't believe 100 percent what he does or did. I've worked for three congressmen, one senator and one president. I can't agree with everybody. I never wanted to run for office myself. My job was to be a staffer, support in the person I work for. And I believed in George Bush. I still believe in George Bush. But if you don't, don't stand at that podium.


FLEISCHER: Don't take the job.

HUGHLEY: Did you see the movie "W."?


HUGHLEY: Why not? Why not?

FLEISCHER: I went right from V to WX.


No. Because it's a parody.


FLEISCHER: It's a foolish movie. I love Rob Corddry, though.

HUGHLEY: Now let me ask you something, probably the most important question, what picture is going to win best picture this year?

FLEISCHER: Best picture?


FLEISCHER: Well, I'm hoping it's going to be C.C. Sabathia for the Yankees.


HUGHLEY: Thank you very much, Ari Fleischer, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE) Next, we will talk about strippers (INAUDIBLE) actors for unemployment.


LEMON: I'm Don Lemon at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. More "D.L. HUGHLEY BREAKS THE NEWS" in just a moment. But first, here's a look at what's happening right now. Some of your headlines.

A controversy over a "New York Post" editorial cartoon will not go away, and it's not going away any time soon. And you can see why. If you're just seeing this, it is a picture of police shooting a chimp with a caption, "They'll have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill."

This has sparked a new debate on race relations in this country, as many feel this cartoon is a blatant attack on President Barack Obama. The NAACP is calling for the firing of the cartoonist. We'll see what happens.

Well, you're talking about it and so are we. Tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, right after "D.L. HUGHLEY BREAKS THE NEWS," we're going to talk about the issue of race in America. And it's going to be a no- holds-barred conversation.

Join our national discussion right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. As always, you can be part of that conversation by logging on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or

I'm Don Lemon at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, be sure to join me at the top of the hour. Meantime more "D.L. HUGHLEY BREAKS THE NEWS" after a quick break.


HUGHLEY: With this economy, no one's job is safe, which is why my next guest gave up his job with "The Dallas Morning News" for a more secure job at the Dallas gentleman's club, The Lodge.

Joining me now from Dallas is Michael Precker.

How are you doing, Michael?



HUGHLEY: I said Pricker.


Now you...

PRECKER: Been called worse.

HUGHLEY: You were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and now you're managing a strip club. How the hell does that happen?

PRECKER: Well, it was a happy accident. I spent 25 years at "The Dallas Morning News." I loved it. I was a foreign correspondent. I was an editor. I was a columnist. I was a humor columnist. I was a feature writer. But, you know, storm clouds are gathering over most media, and topic a of everybody's lunchtime is, what's our plan b? Because we're all going to need one sooner or later.

I didn't have one. Not many people do, unfortunately. And about 2 1/2 years ago, the newspaper offered us a voluntary buyout. It's gotten worse since then, but they offered us a voluntary buyout in trying to get rid of a lot of people. By coincidence, I knew, not well, but I knew the owner of The Lodge, who's a remarkable woman named Doreen Rizzo...

HUGHLEY: Michael, so, by coincidence, you happened to know the owner of a strip club?

PRECKER: As a reporter. Exactly, yes.

HUGHLEY: Absolutely, absolutely.

PRECKER: So I had met her at a -- at the same time, I met her at a charity dinner one night, and I was making a joke. I said, you know, the newspaper business is sort of going downhill. Can you train me to be a bartender? And she said, I'd hire you in a minute. I like working with smart people. You can do publicity and advertising and communications for us and be a manager and come on aboard.

And I thought, oh, come on. I'm Tom Friedman. I'm Wolf Blitzer. I couldn't do anything like that. And...

HUGHLEY: You're the Wolf Blitzer of thongs.


PRECKER: Yes. We have our own situation room. Exactly right.

HUGHLEY: Right. And I'm going there, Jack.


PRECKER: You know, I'm -- D.L., I'm really honored to be on your show, but I really wish you were here. We got a big stage. We've got a lot of seats. It's a beautiful club. You do a heck of a show there. And I wish you'd reconsider.

HUGHLEY: I wish I was there, too. I could tell my wife I'm working.


PRECKER: I do it every day.

HUGHLEY: Now you are in charge of publicity. You changed the slogan. It used to be "Where men are men," right?

PRECKER: "Where man can be a man." That's right.

HUGHLEY: "A man can be man." And you changed it to what?

PRECKER: "For the finer things in life." We have a great restaurant. We have...

HUGHLEY: Wait, wait, wait. You have a great restaurant?

PRECKER: Yes, sir. I tell people, it's like telling your friends that you read "Playboy" for the articles. Nobody believes you but the articles are really good.


PRECKER: No one believes you're coming to our place for great steak and lobster and great food, but the food there is terrific. I wish I could prove it to you.


HUGHLEY: Now, the economy is not doing well. So how is business at The Lodge?

PRECKER: We're holding our own. We're not smug about this. And it's hard for everybody. We're having to work harder. We're making sure we're doing a good job. It's a competitive business, and we're doing OK. Unfortunately, for better or worse, it's probably a better place than newspapers right now for the long-term future.

HUGHLEY: I bet. Now President Bush lives 7.4 mile as way from The Lodge. Does he...

PRECKER: You've done your homework. Yes, sir.

HUGHLEY: Yes. Does he get a lap -- free lap dance?

PRECKER: Well, I can't comment on that. We're very discreet about who comes to our club or not. But he would certainly be welcomed. We are bipartisan. Mr. Clinton would be equally welcomed. And we're ready.

HUGHLEY: So you can keep a secret?


HUGHLEY: And you got great steak?


HUGHLEY: I'll see you next week, Mr. Precker.


Michael Precker, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much.

PRECKER: All right, thank you. HUGHLEY: Next, I'll tell you my choice for Oscar night. A long nap.


HUGHLEY: This is Oscar weekend. So our correspondent, Anthony Griffin, talked to the Hollywood insiders. Check it out.


ANTHONY GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm here in Los Angeles for the 81st Academy Awards, where this town is buzzing with celebrities. Unfortunately, none would talk to me. However, I'm going to talk to normal people to see their take on Oscar night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We always try to go to as many of the movies as we can.

GRIFFIN: Kate Winslet in "The Reader." Have you...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven't seen Kate Winslet in "The Reader."

GRIFFIN: Marissa Tomei in "The Wrestler."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not see that one yet.

GRIFFIN: Did you see "Shaft"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was an excellent film. And I think if it didn't win the Oscar, it should have.

GRIFFIN: Kate Winslet and...


GRIFFIN: ... Marissa Tomei.


GRIFFIN: ... were naked in their movies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh yes, I heard about that.

GRIFFIN: Yes. Did you see when she was naked?


GRIFFIN: If Frank Langella was in "Nixon/Frost" naked, would you see the movie?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know who he is. GRIFFIN: OK. Did you see "The Reader"?


GRIFFIN: What if I paid you to see "The Reader"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would watch "The Reader."


GRIFFIN: One of the movies was Brad Pitt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I saw "Benjamin Button."

CATE BLANCHETT, ACTRESS: Meeting in the middle.

BRAD PITT ACTOR: I thought I'd caught up at the job.

GRIFFIN: Of course, he gets younger and younger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me see him. He looks just like my ex- husband.

GRIFFIN: When he becomes a baby, do you think Angelina Jolie would adopt him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Brad was out there, you know what I'm saying, with a stinky diaper all, you know, she'll probably pick him up, you know, wiped him off.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She would probably adopt him as a child, if not a husband.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, she would. I mean who could resist Brad Pitt at any age.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, she would. She adopts anybody and everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, she would. She would. Add to the collection, yes.

GRIFFIN: All right. The historical significance of Obama becoming president, there's going to be a movie. Who do you think should play Obama?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Denzel Washington could play the president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will Smith will probably play it.

GRIFFIN: Wesley Snipes?




GRIFFIN: Who do you think can play Michelle?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michelle? Oh, bounce...



GRIFFIN: Beyonce.


GRIFFIN: Did you see "Tropic Thunder."

ROBERT DOWNEY JR., ACTOR: I'm tired of being (INAUDIBLE), acting like you're some one-man GPS.

BEN STILLER, ACTOR: I'm with you people.

DOWNEY: What do you mean you people?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me tell you why you're bananas, because your man, your man, you man played the brother.

GRIFFIN: Robert Downey Jr.


DOWNEY: I know who I am. I'm the dude playing the dude disguised as another dude.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a bananas movie.

GRIFFIN: So do you think that black faith is back in?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think those that already have a black face should be taking advantage of that situation.


GRIFFIN: What movie do you think is going to win for best movie of the year?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Um, best movie of the year? "Soul Man."


GRIFFIN: Give me a hint. What movies are up for nomination?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw "Friday the 13th."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I'm pretty sure "Slumdog."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Slumdog Millionaire."

GRIFFIN: Give me a hint.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Slum, slum, what is it slum - "Slum Lord Millionaire"?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Slumdog." I liked that movie.

GRIFFIN: Did you like that?


GRIFFIN: And why is that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the only movie I have seen.

GRIFFIN: Have you seen "Slumdog Millionaire"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I have not seen "Slumdog" but I did see "Taken" with my daughter. And that was, that was kind of weird.

GRIFFIN: My favorite category is original score.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Singing) Moon river wider than a mile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Singing) I'm singing in the rain, I'm singing in the rain...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Singing) Amazing Grace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's my umbrella? I need an umbrella to do this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Singing) Lollipop, lollipop...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to get a union together for gang members.




HUGHLEY: Well, the Oscars are Sunday, and I have one question. Who has actually seen the nominated movies? Well, here with me now to explain how films are picked is the president of, Paul Dergarabedian.

How are you doing, Paul? What's happening?


HUGHLEY: Good. Now, who picks the nominated movies?

DERGARABEDIAN: Well, it's the members of the Academy, which are actors and writers and directors, and for the nominations what happens is the actors nominate actors. Writers nominate writers. And so on. And then the collective body votes on best picture. So it's a very limited group. There's about 5,500 to 6,000 members that decide this, and that's why it's such an exclusive thing, an exclusive event.

HUGHLEY: Well, Paul, I'm sure you recognize me from my work in "Soul Plane." And...



HUGHLEY: I didn't get a ballot, no. Now listen, aren't there some roles you can take that you know almost guarantee a nomination?

DERGARABEDIAN: Well, it tends to be, you know, the roles that are very intense, often times people who are historical figures. Often times if you have an accent or something like that, those tend to be the kind of performances that get nominated for Oscar.

And in movies that usually are more challenging are the films that are, you know, rewarded with the Oscar nominations. But there's usually a disconnect. Because the films that audiences love are not generally the ones that are nominated for Oscar.

HUGHLEY: Well, OK, for instance, Kate Winslet is nominated for "The Reader," which nobody saw, right?


HUGHLEY: Well, here's a clip from the show "Extras" on HBO where she jokes about getting an award for being in a holocaust movie.


RICKY GERVAIS, ACTOR: Now you doing this is so commendable. You're using your profile to keep the message alive about the holocaust.

WINSLET: Thank God I'm not doing that. I thought we're going to need a film about the holocaust, do we? It's like how many have there been? You know? We get it, it was grim, move on. Now I'm doing it, but if you notice, if you do something about the holocaust, guaranteed an Oscar.


HUGHLEY: And lo and behold, she's nominated for an Oscar for a holocaust movie.

DERGARABEDIAN: How prophetic was that? Oh well, it's true, though. You know, it's certain themes really get noticed at Oscar because if the Oscars were about the popularity of films, "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" would be nominated for a bunch of awards because that film is doing incredibly well at the box office.

But, you know, these Oscar contenders, the five Oscar contenders collectively have only earned about $280 million in domestic box office. Compare that to "Titanic" back '97 which earned like $600 million and that Oscar telecast was the most viewed of all time because so many people had a vested interest in watching that because they all -- it seemed like everyone saw "Titanic."

HUGHLEY: But they -- it almost seemed like the Oscar, the Academy has an aversion to popularity. Like, if a movie has big box office receipts, it almost dooms it to get an award, doesn't it?

DERGARABEDIAN: It really -- in a way, it does because the films that are the populist films, the films that appeal to the general audience, don't often have those things that critics like or that the academy voting body likes. Often, though, there's an overlap where you have a film like "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King," which was a box office hit and won for best picture. "Forrest Gump" was another one, "Titanic," like we just talked about.

So, you know, if you're going for Oscar, you tend to need to go for this like deep and dark themes


DERGARABEDIAN: Very esoteric subject matter. But those don't necessarily generate big box office.

HUGHLEY: OK. Now, who do you think -- what picture is going to win best picture?


HUGHLEY: No doubt?

DERGARABEDIAN: Unequivocally, I think that's the one. That movie is amazing. Not only -- and it's gotten a big box office boost. More than the other films from those 10 nominations. It's at $88 million now. That was a movie that would have wound up with about $50 million in box office. Now it's going to be a $100 million-plus hit.

HUGHLEY: OK, Paul, thank you for being with me today. See you at the movies, man.



HUGHLEY: Next, I'll give you a tip that will improve your life.


HUGHLEY: Well, now, it is time for one more thing. Sunday marks my 23rd wedding anniversary.

(APPLAUSE) I am -- I love my wife, and I feel honored that she married me. And I can tell you something, my life got so much better when I accepted, as a man, that there were things that I was going to have to give up to be happy in a marriage. Hope.


Happy anniversary, baby. Thank you guys for coming. Appreciate it. Thank you.