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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview with Meghan McCain; Stocks Soar: Economy Rebounding?

Aired March 23, 2009 - 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, Meghan McCain -- she took on conservative attack dogs Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham.

Is Senator John McCain's daughter the new Republican power player?

Plus, President Obama comes clean.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've got to stay focused on making sure that we're getting this economy moving.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The markets way up today.

So why are his critics still calling him out?

And the Madden twins on life with Good Charlotte, Nicole Richie and why they want you to worry about water right now on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

Tonight we welcome Meghan McCain, a contributor to TheDailyBeast.com and, of course, the daughter of Senator John McCain and Cindy McCain.

Good to have you back, Meghan.

Nice seeing you again.

The president, the man who defeated your dad, was interviewed on "60 Minutes" last night.

Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "60 MINUTES," COURTESY CBS NEWS)

STEVE KROFT, HOST: You're sitting here and you're -- you are laughing about some of these problems.

Are people going to look at this and say I mean he's sitting there just making jokes about money?

(LAUGHTER) KROFT: How do you deal with it?

OBAMA: No. I...

KROFT: I mean explain the...

OBAMA: Well...

KROFT: ...your mood and your laughter...

OBAMA: Yes. I mean there's got to be a little...

KROFT: Are you punch drunk?

OBAMA: No, no. There's got to be a little gallows humor to get you through the day. You know, sometimes my team talks about the fact that if you had said to us a year ago that the least of my problems would be Iraq -- which is still a pretty serious problem -- I don't think anybody would have believed it. But we -- but we've got a lot on our plate and a lot of difficult decisions that we're going to have to make.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right, Meghan, he's taking some criticism for smiling and laughing.

Are you one of those critics?

MEGHAN MCCAIN, CONTRIBUTOR, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: You know, I actually am not. I think anyone that would possibly think that the president is not taking the economy seriously -- I just think it's ridiculous. I think it's like spinning in the 24-hour news cycle. I mean he's still new at this. He's only 60 to 80 days in. And he's making a joke during an interview. I think we take these things too seriously. And I do think the president is taking the economy seriously so.

KING: How about a lot of media -- "The Tonight Show," "60 Minutes," ESPN basketball, cover of "G.Q." "Vanity Fair," tomorrow night, an entire news conference?

We'll, by the way, follow that news conference.

Over exposure?

MCCAIN: I think he is on the verge of it. I do think you have to be careful. But it is a different generation. You know, mine, the generation of YouTube and Twitter and Mississippi and we like our celebrities. We like being involved. And I think that he realizes that because he is very much a Generation Y president.

However, he is on the risk of alienating his older followers.

KING: Did you grow up political?

I mean your dad is, of course, a major politician.

But did you were you into it early?

MCCAIN: Sort of. It sort of happened in college. I was kind of rebelling in high school and not wanting to be a part of it. But it's in my nature, so it kind of grew on me.

KING: Does Obama seem like the guy -- the same guy who ran against your dad?

Is he?

How do you view him?

MCCAIN: He's our president and when the election was over and when President Obama won, all negative feelings were gone. I support the president. You know, I do think he is at risk of possibly overexposing himself. But it's his administration. You know, it's his ball game. It's his to win over or not so.

KING: How does your dad feel about that?

MCCAIN: I think the same way. You know, my family is really good at letting go of things and moving on. And he just holds no grudges. And right now is a really scary time for our -- you know, the country. And there's so much going on with the economy. And I just want what's best for our country. And he's our leader and we need to support him.

KING: Do you think most of the people in your party agree with Mr. Limbaugh?

Do they want him to fail?

MCCAIN: I don't know, because there are many different personalities within the party. I think I've definitely shown that. I -- I do not want the president to fail. I would never want my president to fail, no matter which party is in power. And that's my personal opinion. And I know Mr. Limbaugh has other opinions.

KING: You don't think it would help your party if he fails?

Well, it would hurt the country, huh?

MCCAIN: I don't -- I love my country. I'm an American. I love being an American and I don't want my country to fail and I don't want my president to fail. That's my opinion.

KING: You interviewed the governor's wife or the governor of Louisiana?

MCCAIN: I did. I interviewed Mrs. Jindal, the first lady of Louisiana. And she's a fascinating woman. And I went to Baton Rouge and met her because I had originally met her in Sedona last year before my father chose a running mate. And she totally impressed me because she was very warm and friendly and she had a really good sense of humor. And I've been criticized for not seeing the women I do think are good in the Republican Party.

So I went down and interviewed her and the piece came out today on TheDailyBeast.com.

KING: Do you like him?

MCCAIN: I do. You know, we do veer off on some things politically, but any leader that I'm going to have I'm going to veer off politically. But I do think he still has a future. You know, I keep thinking it's really funny when she originally met him, Mrs. Jindal, he asked her out on a date and she said no. And it took her a second chance to get to know him. So I kind of think the American public should take a second look at Governor Jindal.

KING: Does your -- does your party have a leader?

Does...

MCCAIN: I don't think so right now -- not one that at least I can look up to and say this person totally entisizes (ph) the future of the Republican Party. I think that's the problem right now, is that the party is without a leader and sort of without a vision.

KING: All right. You took a lot of heat for a lot of things.

Do you -- do you consider yourself a moderate?

Are you moderate liberal?

Are you...

MCCAIN: I consider myself a progressive Republican. I am liberal on social issues. And I think that the party is at a place where social issues shouldn't be the issues that define the party. And I have taken heat, but in fairness to me, I am a different generation than the people that are giving me heat. I'm 24 years old. I'm not in my 40s, I'm not in my 50s and older. And I think there's just such a generation gap, that the people that don't understand me, I actually take it as a compliment, that sort of this new young Republican can come forward and make progress and be successful in the ways that this party has currently failed.

KING: Therefore, Meghan, you must, based on what you said, disagree with your father?

MCCAIN: On some things, yes, we do.

KING: Do you discuss this?

MCCAIN: We have a very big generation gap between me and my father. Yes, we discuss them. He's very open-minded. I was raised in an open-minded home. I was raised a Christian, but I was raised open- minded Christian -- one to accept people, love people, not pass judgment. And that's the kind of place I was raised. It's how I lived my life and my father is great.

KING: You must believe in choice?

MCCAIN: Choice?

KING: Yes. A woman has a right to have a baby...

MCCAIN: You asked me this last time. I believe in gay marriage. I believe in many things socially. I personally am pro-life, but I'm not going to judge someone that's pro-choice. It is not my place to judge other people and what they do with their body.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Veronica, Huntington Park, California: "Do you share most of your father's political views?"

What's the main disagreement?

MCCAIN: I share a lot of them.

KING: What's the main disagreement, you would say?

MCCAIN: The main disagreement?

Probably social issues, yes. But, you know, when it comes to war and the economy, and many fiscal conservative values, I agree with him. I mean I fell in love with the Republican Party because of my father, because he was the kind of leader that I could go and campaign for two years. And he just inspired me in such a way -- and, obviously, millions of other people. And I worry about is there is not a leader like that right now. You know, I do think that there are people that definitely could become those leaders. That's why I did an article on Mrs. Jindal. And, you know, maybe someday I can do one on him. But I do think there are people that can do it, just right now there isn't.

KING: How come -- how did you start a blog?

MCCAIN: How did I start a blog?

KING: Yes.

Why?

MCCAIN: You know, when I joined the campaign the people that, you know, were running the campaign asked me how I could contribute. And I said I knew a lot about the Internet. That had been what I had done before. And I just started it and it kind of snowballed from there. And it's -- it was my baby and I love working for TheDailyBeast. The blogosphere seems to really agree with me. I like the medium.

And it's fantastic. I'm so grateful for all the people that have been following me and, you know.

KING: Well, that's become a big blog site.

MCCAIN: Yes. And my Twitter -- I just joined a few weeks ago and I already have 11,000 people following me. And I -- I love sort of the interaction that people can be involved. I love Twitter. It's my new favorite thing so.

KING: Meghan found herself in the middle of a political storm recently -- a personal attack on her appearance made news and she did not take it lightly. And that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Meghan McCain.

You can read what she's writing at DailyBeast.com. We've got a link to it at CNN.com/larryking. You can also give us your thoughts right there on our own blog.

Earlier this month, McCain wrote a DailyBeast column criticizing right-wing pundit Ann Coulter.

Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham fired back at you, including making a comment about your weight. You then gave a straight talk response in an appearance on "The View."

Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE VIEW," COURTESY ABC)

MCCAIN: What do young women think when I speak my mind about politics and they want to have a political discussion about the ideological future of the Republican Party and the answer is she's fat, she shouldn't have an opinion?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

MCCAIN: What kind of message are we sending young women?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

MCCAIN: It's terrible. I have a little sister.

And what kind of example is this setting for her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I couldn't...

MCCAIN: If infuriates me. Weight is not the -- I'm a political writer on a blog and all of a sudden I'm too fat to write?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

MCCAIN: Why are we so obsessed with weight?

Why?

And I know specifically for me, this is so -- you know, I'm a pop culture junky. But when Tyra Banks went on her show in her bathing suit...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With that bathing suit.

MCCAIN: ...and said: "Kiss my fat ass"...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

MCCAIN: ...that's what I feel like right now. I'm like kiss my fat ass. Like I don't...

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What led to that, Meghan?

MCCAIN: You know, it's so funny. I was in the airport today and this guy goes hey, Meghan, kiss my fat ass. And I was like oh my gosh. That's where this has gone to.

I just -- as far as I'm concerned with what's going on with Laura Ingraham, on my end, it's over. I just -- there are nine million women in this country suffering from eating disorders. And I just -- I'm not going to be bullied around about my weight and what kind of standards I'm not fitting or what kind of people I'm happy. And I just don't think weight should ever be brought into a topic when we're talking about politics or anything.

KING: Were you surprised that Laura, who's had breast cancer, got into something that personal?

MCCAIN: I had never heard of her before until this happened. I didn't -- I'm not familiar...

KING: You didn't know her?

MCCAIN: No. I'm not familiar with her work. But I -- I hope she doesn't do it again.

KING: What about Ann Coulter?

MCCAIN: She didn't respond, which is fine with me. I just -- I wrote a piece on her. And it was just talking about all I want to do is show women -- young women -- that you don't have to be Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham to have a place in the Republican Party. And there didn't seem to be any kind of role model -- a young woman role model -- or any woman, really. I mean Supriya Jindal is a good role model, but a lot of people hadn't heard of her.

And I just want to show that you don't have to think one way and fit into this one box in order to be a member of the Republican Party. And I think sometimes there are stereotypes out there that you have to do that.

KING: Did your dad talk to you about this?

MCCAIN: Yes. Yes, he did.

KING: What did he say? MCCAIN: My parents are the most supportive parents in the whole world. I have the greatest parents ever. That's why I can sit here and say these things, because they are so supportive.

KING: Both parents?

MCCAIN: Yes, totally.

KING: Were they angry at Laura Ingraham?

MCCAIN: My mother was. My mother was. She's a very protective mama bear. I think she -- because Laura Ingraham has a daughter, just the same thing -- what kind of example are you setting for your daughter?

But, you know, she said it was a joke. You know, she has her opinions, I have mine. Like I said, it -- it's really over, though.

KING: OK. You blogged earlier this month that you still were figuring out what tattoo to get to commemorate your time on the campaign trail.

Have you made a decision?

MCCAIN: I think I have. I think I'm going to get...

KING: Where are you leaning?

MCCAIN: I think I'm going to get McCain and Old English on my wrist, just to commemorate the whole experience, because I kept wanting to but I think I finally decided on what I want.

KING: Are you a tattooer?

MCCAIN: I have one. My brothers have a lot of tattoos. I love tattoos. I do.

I know, you never would have thought me, right?

But I do.

KING: No. You don't look like a tattooer.

MCCAIN: I do. I love tattoos.

KING: What do your folks think of that?

MCCAIN: I've got supportive parents, you know. They -- my mom thinks it's cute, the one I have so -- I have a little star on my foot.

KING: What kind of dad is your father?

MCCAIN: He's great. I love my dad so much. He's the best father to me. And like I said, he's so supportive of me and my career and what I do and speaking my mind. And people are always seemed so surprised that I can say things like I do and write things like I do.

But when you grow up having a maverick as a father and an example, you can understand how I turned out like this.

KING: So you have what we know as a daddy-daughter relationship?

MCCAIN: Oh, I'm totally daddy's girl, yes.

KING: That's -- is -- the whole family is close, the brothers?

MCCAIN: Yes. Yes, I'm really close to -- one of my brothers overseas right now, so I don't get to talk to him as much as I would like. But a big shout-out to everybody that's overseas serving.

KING: Where is he, in Afghanistan?

MCCAIN: I actually can't say where he is at for security reasons, but I miss him a lot. But we're all very close, yes.

KING: Good seeing you, Meghan.

MCCAIN: Thank you so much for having me.

KING: Thank you.

President Obama was on "60 Minutes" last night.

We'll see you in 60 seconds with that blog at CNN.com/larryking.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A reminder that we'll be on with a major panel tomorrow night immediately following President Obama's press conference.

He, by the way, continues to make the media rounds. Here he is on last night's "60 Minutes" with our friend, Steve Kroft.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "60 MINUTES," COURTESY CBS NEWS)

KROFT: What's the hardest decision you've had to make in the last 60 days?

OBAMA: Well, I would say that the decision to send more troops in to Afghanistan. You know, I think it's the right thing to do. But it's a weighty decision because we actually had to make the decision prior to the completion of a strategic review that we were conducting. And when I make a decision to send 17,000 young Americans to Afghanistan, you can understand that intellectually. But understanding what that means for those families, for those young people, when you end up sitting at your desk signing a condolence letter to one of the family members of a fallen hero, you're reminded each and every day, at every moment, that the decisions you make count.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The stock market went through the roof today, up almost 500 points.

So why are President Obama's critics calling for him to fire the Treasury secretary?

Back with the debate over Tim Geithner, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Now we get into it with another outstanding political panel.

In Washington is Congressman Connie Mack, Republican of Florida, member of the House Budget Committee. He wants the Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, to resign or be summarily fired.

In Boston is Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor-in- chief of TheHuffingtonPost.com.

Here in Los Angeles, Larry Elder, the libertarian commentator and author of the new book, "What's Race Got To Do with It?" there you its cover, where he says it's time to stop the stupidest argument in America.

And in Portland, Oregon, Thom Hartmann, talk radio show host of his own show. "Talkers" magazine ranked him the number one progressive talker for 2009.

All right, guys, let's look at this first and then we'll get into it.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is the administration's point man on bank relief. He's been under fire even before he was sworn in.

President Obama defended him last night on "60 Minutes".

Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "60 MINUTES," COURTESY CBS NEWS)

KROFT: Your Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, has been under a lot of pressure this week. And there have been people in Congress calling for his head.

Could there have been discussions in the White House about replacing him?

OBAMA: No.

KROFT: Has he volunteered to or come to you and said do you think I should step down?

OBAMA: No. And he shouldn't. And if were to come to me, I'd say, sorry, buddy, you've still got the job.

But, look, he's got a lot of stuff on his plate. And he is doing a terrific job. And I take responsibility for not, I think, having given him as much help as he needs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right, Congressman Mack, why do you so strongly want him out?

REP. CONNIE MACK (R-FL), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE: Well, you know, Larry, if you look back, whether it's the questions about his taxes, if it's questions about, you know, him being one of the chief architects of the bailout bill, who now wants more. And then what we've seen last week with AIG, he doesn't instill any confidence, in my opinion, in the American -- with the American people. And it's time for him to go. It's time to bring someone in that can create the confidence that we need in our markets and has the skill set to get the job done.

KING: Arianna?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Well, you know Congressman Mack is saying that without, in any way, challenging the Wall Street centering view that I have a problem with when it comes to Tim Geithner's plan. I don't have any problem with Geithner himself.

My problem is with the facts, Larry, that here we go again. This is deja vu all over again. We have the bailout plan that says -- the president himself on Jay Leno that the banks have not been lending, which was the original intention behind the bailout. He said that we have to create a securitized market to provide college loans and auto loans because the banks -- and these are his words -- have been using the money we gave them to basically balance their own balance sheets.

So here we have a situation where the interests of the banks and the interests of the public are not aligned. And this plan that Tim Geithner unveiled today is really more of the same.

KING: All right...

HUFFINGTON: It's socialized profits and privatized gains.

KING: Larry Elder, what's your read on the secretary?

LARRY ELDER, LIBERTARIAN COMMENTATOR: Well, I find myself in the odd position, Larry, of agreeing with Arianna.

The issue is not Geithner. The issue is whether or not we ought to be using taxpayer dollars to bail out institutions, banks, that have made bad debts. This is capitalism. Capitalism is risk-reward. You bet the wrong way on mortgages, you should assume the risk, not taxpayers. That's what the issue is.

So getting rid of Geithner is not going to get rid of the person who agrees with that policy. And that person is President Barack Obama, who inherited the same policy from George W. Bush, except put it on steroids, Larry.

KING: And Thom Hartmann, where do you stand on this issue?

THOM HARTMANN, TALK RADIO HOST: Well, I think -- I think what has happened, Larry, is that we have institutions that are too big to fail. And, you know, going back to Teddy Roosevelt, when he busted up the trusts, we've -- we've known in America, sometimes intuitively and sometimes explicitly, that when you have institutions that are too big to fail, you have institutions that are too big to exist. They shouldn't be that large.

But the fact of the matter is the policies of the last roughly 30 years, since Reagan essentially stopped enforcing The Sherman Act and then you go to Gramm-Leach-Bliley and The Commodity Futures Modernization Act and all these other pieces of legislation that allowed these giant entities to come into existence and all of these weird new derivative products to come into place with absolutely no oversight -- not even keeping track of them, that -- that this is a -- this is a time -- this is a -- it's like a hand grenade that the pin has been pulled and it's been rolled at us.

We've -- we've got to figure out...

KING: All right...

HARTMANN: He has to do something about that. He has to do something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Larry...

KING: Congressman Mack?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Larry...

KING: Congressman Mack, it would appropriate -- is he between a rock and a hard place?

MACK: Yes.

KING: In a sense?

MACK: I believe he is. But I believe it's of his own making. And I would also say this, that if -- if you believed -- believe that the bailout is a bad thing and heading in the wrong direction, the secretary, Secretary Geithner, was one of the chief architects of the bailout.

So I don't know -- anyway you slice this up, Tim Geithner is right in the crosshairs.

And if there's no confidence and the man that's putting the plans together, then I believe that he ought to step down and someone else ought to take the position. We don't have time to wait.

KING: We'll continue in a minute.

President Obama had some interesting things to say about former Vice President Dick Cheney. We'll talk about it ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back.

We'll discuss the Cheney comments in a minute.

But, Arianna, aren't you encouraged by that 500 -- almost 500 boost on the stock market today?

HUFFINGTON: Oh, Larry, absolutely not. We've seen what happens to the market during the periods of irrational exuberance that got us to where we are. The problem is not what happens to the market from week to week or day to day. That's not the criteria.

The problem is what happens to small businesses and individuals who cannot go on.

And we have an extraordinary situation right now, Larry, with more job losses, more foreclosures and the government having committed over $9 trillion putting money in ways that are not working and they are not freeing up the credit that we need.

And here is Tim Geithner, who, a month ago, was really in a spirited battle within the White House with David Axelrod, wanting to impose more stringent controls, more strings, if you want, to the bailout to the banks. Geithner won and we saw what happened with the AIG bonuses and the populist rage that they unleashed.

ELDER: Larry...

KING: Larry, does the market explosion today encourage you?

ELDER: No, it doesn't.

KING: No?

ELDER: Any kind of -- well, I've got some money in the market. I'm happy when it goes up. Or then it's going down.

But do I believe that that therefore means that the market is happy with all of this money that's being spent?

No, I don't.

And one of the problems, Larry, is that the Republicans are nitpicking this and that. They don't have any consistent message.

Why?

Because they were right there when George W. Bush expanded discretionary spending, when George Bush spent money on the prescription benefit bill for seniors, No Child Left Behind. They voted for the TARP bailout. They were there when government expanded itself and got more and more involved in the private sector. And now they're upset because the other guy is doing it.

I'd have a lot more respect for Republicans if they would have been consistent.

John McCain would have won this election if John McCain had stood up there in September and said I am not standing up for any kind of rescue or any kind of bailout. He'd be president of the United States.

KING: Thom, so what happens?

Where do we go from here?

HARTMANN: My concern, Larry, is that we're dealing with the large institutions. The Geithner program is to deal with banks from the top down, which arguably may be appropriate. But nobody is talking about dealing from the bottom up. We were driving around a suburban neighborhood here in Oregon yesterday, and someone had a sign out in the front yard that said no more foreclosures, a hand made sign.

The bottom up end of it is not being addressed, frankly, the way it needs to be. We need to be looking at the entire thing. And once these large systems get put back together, they need to be broken up, frankly.

KING: Also during that "60 Minute" interview, Obama was asked about Dick Cheney's recent comments that the new administration's Guantanamo policies are making the United States more vulnerable to another terrorist attack. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I fundamentally disagree with Dick Cheney, not surprisingly. I think Vice President Cheney has been at the head of a movement whose notion is somehow that we can't reconcile our core values, our Constitution, our belief that we don't torture, with our national security interests.

I think he's drawing the wrong lesson from history. The facts don't bare him out. I think he is -- that attitude, that philosophy has done incredible damage to our image and position in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Congressman Mack, President Bush has decided not to comment about his successor. What do you make of the Cheney comments?

MACK: I think Cheney feels very passionately about this and he's concerned about the safety and security of our country. It's a little troubling that the president of the United States is willing to say that he's going to -- he's going to close it down without really sharing the plans on what he's going to do with the people who are there. Do we really want -- I think the question is, people back home need to ask themselves, do we really want these people in the United States? There are people who want to see harm done to our country. I don't see how anybody can sit back and say, yes, let's welcome them in to the United States or to another country, where they can plan to cause harm to the United States.

KING: By the way, we want to hear from you. Answer this, with today's surging stocks and home sales on the rise, are we nearing the end of the economic crisis? Or is this a fluke? Go to CNN.com/LarryKing and click on our blog and let us know. We'll share some of your comments later in the show.

We'll be back with this outstanding panel after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Congressman Connie Mack, Arianna Huffington, Larry Elder, and Thom Hartmann. They'll all be on our daily podcast tomorrow at CNN.com/LarryKing. What about the Cheney thing, Larry?

ELDER: I was struck by what Cheney said. Cheney is arguing that the Obama administration is taking us back to a law enforcement model rather than a war model. I'm, frankly, blown away by how little Obama has changed from the Bush policies. He's keeping Guantanamo open, says he won't close it for at least a year. He's keeping the policy of extraordinary rendition that he criticized on the campaign trail.

He's still retaining the right to get a surveillance without getting a warrant, going around FISA. He used the same state secret argument in a court case that the Bush administration used to avoid turning over documents. I think once you start governing, it's very different than when you're running. He's finding that the Bush policies to fight the war on terror were, in fact, quite prudent.

KING: Arianna, what do you make of the Cheney argument?

HUFFINGTON: Well, absolutely wrong. I think Obama was really right in his response when he said that our security is not inconsistent with maintaining our core values. He has said he is going to close down Guantanamo. He's doing it responsibly. He's doing it after a thorough review of where the prisoners are going to go.

We've seen again and again that Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and all these abuses have really made America less safe.

KING: Thom, what do you make of it?

HARTMANN: I agree with Arianna. Although I'm concerned about some of the continuity from the administration, I'm also encouraged that I'm hearing a lot of signs from the Obama administration that they're trying to clean those things up and moving in the right direction, back to the principles of our democracy and our Constitution. KING: Let's Take a call. Dallas, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Larry, it's wonderful to talk to you again. We love you. First of all, I want to say, I was on the campaign with my wife and son for two years. We completely believe in Barack Obama. My son has a book coming out, a children's book coming out. I want to say this to you: if the stock market continues to go up in the next four weeks, and we approach 8,900, 9,000, I would like to know what would then the Republican party -- what would their attacks be at that moment?

KING: Congressman Mack?

MACK: It's unfortunate that everyone wants to look at this -- or people want to look at this as an attack. I'm concerned about our economy and moving forward. It's clear, if you don't have confidence in the person who is putting together the plans and the ideas to try to do that, those plans won't -- won't have the same bite that they should. So I think Obama owes it to us -- President Obama owes it to us to either ask for his resignation or that Geithner needs to resign, so that we can begin to move forward and not have this cloud over the Secretary Geithner.

KING: Arianna, would it help, frankly, just for something -- it's reality if you think it is what it is. Would it help if Geithner did leave?

HUFFINGTON: First of all, Larry, let me just say, I don't know what Congressman Mack stand for. I know that his father voted for the abolition of the Glass-Steagall Act. I presume he would agree with that, which was the beginning of the deregulation that got us to where we are. To just call for Tim Geithner's resignation without standing for anything that would get us out of the mess is to me irresponsibility.

My argument with Tim Geithner, and the reason I think he should not be in charge of our economic policy, is because he has been in favor of these deregulations that have got us where we are, because he's in favor of the things that Connie Mack and many Republicans support. Because, while he was head of the Fed and in charge of supervising Citigroup, he actually abolished the quarterly risk report that would have been very instrumental in preventing what happened to Citigroup.

That's my reasoning. And I object to Republicans who are suddenly appearing like populists and begin to sound like Upton Sinclair.

MACK: Larry, if I may just, as you can imagine, I would like to respond to that. I'm proud of my record. I stand on it. I opposed every one of the bail outs from the beginning. Before they even began, I wrote a letter to all of my colleagues saying this is not the right approach and I do believe that we have other options. I wouldn't surprise you to --

HUFFINGTON: What are they? MACK: It wouldn't surprise you to hear me say that I believe we ought to look at reducing the size and scope of government, reducing regulations that keep businesses from growing, and to cut taxes. That's the way that we're going to get this economy growing, not more liberal, social planning programs and government spending.

KING: We're out of time in this segment. I thank you all. We'll have you all back. Sprightly discussion. Don't forget Larry Elder's new book, "What's Race Got to Do With It?" We'll be back in 60 seconds with your thoughts, CNN.com/LarryKing. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: I know you like to comment on our blog during our political debates. It looks like tonight is no exception. Here's David Theall with what you're saying about it all? David?

DAVID THEALL, CNN BLOG CORRESPONDENT: Larry, what people are saying is that they are angry still over the situation, the economy, Mr. Geithner. They're willing to give the president some time to work it out, but still, people are angry.

We're hearing comments like this: "I'm 23 and I'm angry at how long we'll be forced to pay to keep these bloated companies together."

Here's another one we pulled out, Larry: "let me get this straight," asks Jennifer, "these companies were mismanaged into the ground; Congress throws our money at them; we don't know where the money is going; the bonuses are going to the very people that brought us here; and Mr. Geithner couldn't figure out his own taxes but is in charge of figuring out our way out of this. Have I got this right? Heaven help us," says Jennifer.

KING: David, some great news from the markets helped prompt our question of the day.

THEALL: We did, Larry. We asked this question of the day: with today's surging stocks and home sales on the rise, are we nearing the end of the economic crisis or is this just a fluke? Someone chimed in, we thought we'd tell you, Larry. He said, "this is just a ruse that happened today. They're trying to get the mob to put the pitch forks down."

We also heard from Bonnie who says this -- most people feel the way Bonnie does. "Of course, we're not at the end," she says. "This is only the beginning. The debt is huge and will take forever to finish." We're going to continue the conversation at CNN.com/LarryKing. Look for the blog link, click, jump in the conversation. Larry and I always look forward to hearing from you.

KING: You bet, David. Excellent job, as always. David Theall right on top of the scene. Joel and Benji Madden are here next for a great cause. Stick around, see how you can help.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

KING: Joel and Benji Madden from Good Charlotte are here. Joel sings the lead vocals. Benji is the lead guitar and he sings backup. The twin brothers travelled to Central African Republic on behalf of Unicef and the Tap Project. Let's take a quick look at some video messages they shot about Unicef's work in Africa. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJI MADDEN, GOOD CHARLOTTE: Hey everybody, my name is Benji Madden. I'm here with my friends in San Wanda (ph), Central African Republic. This place is a lot like many other places in the world. The people, and especially the children, are in desperate need of clean water.

JOEL MADDEN, GOOD CHARLOTTE: Hey, I'm Joel Madden. I'm an ambassador with Unicef. And I've seen firsthand how Unicef is bringing clean water to children here in Africa and all over the world. That's why I work with Unicef. The work and the money that's raised and all that, it all really goes somewhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Joel, what's the tap project?

J. MADDEN: The Tap Project is a project that Unicef start in 2007 to raise funds for clean water for children around the world. There's over 425 million children around the world without access to clean or safe water. So Tap Project is during World Water Week, which started today, people can go to participating restaurants, which they can find on TapProject.org, and they can -- for the tap water they usually drink for free, they can donate a dollar or two or three for the water.

KING: Benji, Tap means tap water.

B. MADDEN: Tap water. The idea is that for every dollar people donate, it will give clean water to one child for 40 days or 40 children for one day. So you can imagine how far a dollar goes. We're hoping to --

KING: Unicef does great work. What struck you about Africa?

J. MADDEN: Africa? The children. Going there to these villages and these refugee camps and being with the children -- we were there for a little over seven days. And the people when they shake your hand, they --

B. MADDEN: Electric.

J. MADDEN: It's electric. When they smile at you, they mean it. When they look in your eyes, they are really looking into your eyes. So, for me, what struck me about it the most was the children and the stars at night.

KING: What do you mean? J. MADDEN: More stars at night than I've ever seen in my life in the sky.

B. MADDEN: You're in a little village with no electricity, and there's no city lights anywhere. You look up at night it's amazing.

KING: Would you say you enjoyed going?

B. MADDEN: I mean, I didn't want to leave, you know. I can't wait to go back. I think about it every day. I'm just -- we're getting our plans together for another trip. I didn't want to leave. I loved it.

KING: How did Unicef pick you guys?

J. MADDEN: I started working with Unicef quite some time ago. And last year on the Tap Project, I got involved on my own and was really excited about it. And this year, they asked -- they asked me to be the spokesperson. And then we went and did that trip.

And we love what Unicef does. Seeing firsthand the people on the ground in so many different countries for Unicef, it gives you a lot of hope that there is some organizations out there that are really changing the world.

B. MADDEN: There's -- I don't mean to cut you off. Just to give people an idea, there's 25,000 children die every day from preventable causes, you know, from things that are simple to solve. And a lot of that is water related.

We believe it should be zero. That's kind of like we're hoping to work towards that, you know, little by little.

KING: You guys were very poor, weren't you, as kids?

B. MADDEN: Now that we've been there, I wouldn't say we were very poor at all. You know, we had clean water and a mother that loves us.

J. MADDEN: We're humbled. Humbled.

B. MADDEN: It was a good place to start. Taught us how to work.

KING: When you have that, you never really forget it, your upbringing?

J. MADDEN: You never forget when your family has to struggle. That's why when I look at America today, I see a lot of families struggling. Having my own family, I know what it's like to be in a family where everybody has to pull together. It's stressful. In times like these, even something like Unicef, where you give a dollar, there's something about when you don't have much to give and you give a dollar, it means a lot more, you know?

KING: Damn right. We got to ask you about Nicole Richie. You know how I know her? Through her father. Her father is a good man. She's a good girl.

We'll talk to Joel. We won't forget you. We'll talk to Joel. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: That's the anthem performed by Joel and Benji Madden of Good Charlotte. How did you name that group, Good Charlotte?

J. MADDEN: It was the name of a book. There's not too much of a story there.

B. MADDEN: Fifteen.

J. MADDEN: We were 15 years old.

KING: You were 15 years old and you read a book called "Good Charlotte?" That's it?

B. MADDEN: I didn't even read the book. Joel just pointed it out and said, let's name our band that. We were 15 at the time. So it stuck.

KING: You were raised in Maryland. So you're oriole fans.

J. MADDEN: Yes.

KING: But you've got Dodger tattoos.

J. MADDEN: We got the Dodgers tattoo. We love the Dodgers too.

KING: You go to Dodger games?

J. MADDEN: We go to as many Dodgers games as we can. Growing up, when the leagues were split, I was a big Darrell Strawberry fan and I loved Cal Ripken. So we followed the teams.

B. MADDEN: We've got the Orioles tattoo.

KING: Tell me about Nicole Richie. How did that happen?

J. MADDEN: Nicole? We met through some friends. We hit it off right away. She's an awesome girl.

KING: You have two children now? Or one and one on the way?

J. MADDEN: We have a daughter, Harlow, who is 15 months. And we have one on the way.

KING: But you're not married.

J. MADDEN: Not married.

KING: Are you going to get married?

J. MADDEN: One day. You know, we're really focused on our family. And we feel like -- we already feel kind of married, you know. We have a great -- our family system that we have down, we feel like this is a real family. And marriage, one day it'll come.

KING: You have a great father-in-law.

J. MADDEN: He's great.

KING: But you're on the road a lot, aren't you?

J. MADDEN: We're on the road. So is he.

KING: I know. But it's tough -- isn't it tough for the wife and the kid?

J. MADDEN: The last tour we had was kind of a family tour.

B. MADDEN: Yes, they come out.

KING: They went with you?

B. MADDEN: Most of the band has kids. I'm kind of the only single guy left in the band.

KING: What about you with the women?

B. MADDEN: I'm married to music right now. We're working on our fifth album. Number one, number two, number three, you kind of know what to do. But on album five, you just kind of go, how do we make this one different? We've been putting a lot of time into that.

KING: Didn't you date Paris Hilton?

B. MADDEN: Yes, I did.

KING: Nice girl?

B. MADDEN: Yes.

KING: That's all. We're going to leave it at that.

(CROSS TALK)

KING: There's a joke in there somewhere, but I don't know what it is. We have an e-mail from Shannon in New Port Beach, California. "You've both been in very public romantic relationships. How do you feel about being followed by the paparazzi? How do you feel about being tabloid targets?"

J. MADDEN: We don't read it in our house. We do the best we can to avoid the paparazzi. Here In L.A., it's kind of hard to get away from sometimes. It's still there. We do our best to avoid it. And as a family, we do our best to protect our daughter from it. We do the best we can. Sometimes we have to go out of our way and there's a lot of maneuvers. But we do our best.

KING: Does it bother you, Benji? B. MADDEN: I grow a beard in between records. You know, yes. I have the same policy as Joel and Nicole. I just ignore it. I'm a song writer. At the end of the day, I was born to play rock and roll and write songs. Anything else, I just stay focused on music.

KING: We have an e-mail -- by the way, this Tap thing, you can start now. Go into restaurants that are part of it. You get tap water and leave some money for the tap water. Great idea. It goes right to Unicef. E-mail question from Lisa in St. Augustine, Florida, "Benji, congratulations on being a vegetarian. What prompted it?"

B. MADDEN: You know, I think these days it's very easy for people to eat however they want. If people are led to be vegetarians and look out for the animals, it's an easy thing you can do.

J.MADDEN: But you're not a vegetarian.

B. MADDEN: I'm not a vegetarian anymore. I started this thing called working out. I've been trying to get ready for the new record. Got to stay in shape. I've upped my protein sources.

KING: Do you guys know Chris Brown.

J. MADDEN: No.

KING: Do you know him?

B. MADDEN: No. Don't know him.

KING: Do you know Rihanna?

J. MADDEN: Met her a couple times, but it was in passing. Nice girl.

KING: Is Good Charlotte going to be -- you got to grow old being Good Charlotte? Or is it some day you might start singing "God Bless America" or Frank Sinatra songs?

B. MADDEN: Who knows. I'd like to do an album of standards some day.

KING: What's wrong with that?

(CROSS TALK)

KING: You can remember the lyrics, understand them, and you can hum them.

J. MADDEN: Exactly. They teach you how to sing, too.

KING: That's right.

B. MADDEN: We look up to bands like U2 and the bands that have had amazing careers.

J. MADDEN: We love Green Day. They've done it well. They're a band we look up to.

KING: I look up to you guys for supporting Tap, going over to Africa, being involved with Unicef. That's really great. Good seeing you both.

J. MADDEN: Thank you.

B. MADDEN: Thanks for having us.

KING: Thank you. Joel and Benji Madden. When you go to a restaurant, a supporting restaurant that's involved, leave money for the tap water. You're helping others.

We're on top of the economy and other current events. We'll have reaction to President Obama's prime time news conference. We'll follow it immediately tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE.

Anderson Cooper is on the case, too. He's here right now with "AC 360." Anderson?

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