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Tehran in Turmoil; Levi Johnston on the Letterman-Palin Feud; D-List Diva Takes Aim

Aired June 16, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, breaking news from Iran. Fury rages for four straight days. More than 100,000 protesters take to the streets, risking their lives to dispute election results. We've got the latest on the turmoil.

Then Palin versus Letterman -- Levi Johnston's got his own take on the joke that really hit home.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: It's my fault that it was misunderstood.


KING: Is the apology cutting it with the father of Sarah Palin's grandchild?

We're going to ask him.

Plus, Kathy Griffin has got something to say about -- about it all.


KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: So they think that LARRY KING is just a radio show.


KING: Nobody's safe when this D-List diva takes aim.

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

An extraordinary four days in Iran -- the disputed presidential elections and rumble in the streets. Controversy and conflict -- we'll talk about what's going on with Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent. She's in London.

Reza Sayah, he's CNN's international correspondent. He's in Tehran.

And here in Los Angeles with us Shiva Rose, author and playwright, who came to this country after the Iranian Revolution in 1979 -- Reza, what's the latest?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, not good news on Tuesday for CNN and other members of the foreign media. Essentially, the Iranian government pointed the finger to CNN and other foreign media outlets and said no more. You are no longer allowed to cover and broadcast images of the rallies and the demonstrations that we've seen over the past four days, ever since the controversial and disputed election on Friday.

Of course, it's been the foreign media and CNN that have shown the pictures that have included the violent and oftentimes brutal crackdown on the part of the riot police and members of the Iranian Basij against supporters of Mir-Hossein Moussavi, the disgruntled candidate.

And the Iranian government essentially said that's enough, no more, making our job very challenging here, Larry.

KING: So, Reza, you can report, but we can't show, is that it?

SAYAH: We have to stick to our offices and that's it. No more going to the rallies. Essentially, we were at the Cultural Ministry yesterday. They're the ministry that approves press credentials. And, basically, they said we cannot guarantee your safety.

KING: All right...

SAYAH: And I personally sensed that was a clear reference to the riot police and members of the Iranian Basij, the voluntary militia that we've seen pictures of carrying the batons.

So we can stay in our offices, but we can't go to the rallies.

KING: I got it.

SAYAH: So we've had to be really creative in getting some eyes and ears down there to do some reporting, to convey the information of what's happening on the ground here -- Larry.

KING: Christiane, you're back in London, just back from Tehran.

Does this action by the government surprise you?

CHRISTIAN AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't, actually, because everybody was -- you know, there was something like 400 foreign journalists who were given visas and accredited to the election process, including scores of journalists from America and Western Europe and many other countries around the world. And they were given -- we were all given certain time limits.

And what the government basically said was that they weren't going to be extending our work permits or visas. And so those whose permits have -- have expired have had to leave.

But I think what's interesting is that they have said they are afraid for people's safety. And to be frank, I think that is actually true, to an extent, because the Basij, which are accountable to who knows who and are exceptionally violent toward whoever, including the press, are an exceptionally scary group of people. And I think that the Iranian government does not want journalists' blood on their hands at the moment.

KING: All right...

AMANPOUR: I think, you know, it's very, very important that journalists remain, are able to report, that we get whatever news, video, phone lines, whatever we can get out of there, to be able to keep this story alive...

KING: All right...

AMANPOUR: ...and to make sure eyes and ears are on it.

KING: Shiva, you were a young lady when you left, weren't you?


KING: How old were you?

ROSE: 10 years old.

KING: Do you have family there?

ROSE: I do. I have uncles and aunts and cousins.

KING: What do you make of all of this?

ROSE: Well, I think we're all watching it with baited breath. I mean it's an exciting time. It's really a tremendous time, because people are actually uprising and wanting their votes to be -- to be recognized.

But it's also very frightening time, as you can see. And I think we just want to make sure it's not another Tiananmen Square incident and so.

KING: The people of your country are very friendly to the people of the United States, aren't they?

There's kind of like a bond, isn't there, between Iranians and America?

ROSE: Oh, yes. Definitely. I mean, as we all know, the government doesn't represent the people. And the people are all very fond of Americans (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Are you able to keep in touch with your relatives?

ROSE: A little bit, yes.

KING: Reza, is there going to be an investigation or not into the election? SAYAH: There is. Indeed, the Guardian Council, which is the highest legislative body in Iran, has called for a partial recount. And that came about after Sunday night, when the supreme leader met with the disgruntled candidate, Mir-Hossein Moussavi. Shortly thereafter, the supreme leader did call on the Guardian Council to launch a careful review.

And they said, OK, we'll do a partial recount.

But for the Moussavi candidate, that is not enough. On Tuesday, we spoke to one of the advisers. And they basically told CNN that a partial recount will not reveal any fraud, there's no guarantee that it won't be fraud again and that what they want is the government to be accountable for all 53 million printed ballots. There were 53 million ballots printed. Thirty-nine million were used.

And the Moussavi candidate camp is telling CNN that a recount will have the government accountable for 39 million. But they want all of the 53 million ballots accounted for. And basically they're dismissing -- rejecting that offer. They want a new vote.

And there's no indication by the Guardian Council if they'll even consider that -- Larry.

KING: Christiane, wasn't that vote counted rather quickly?

AMANPOUR: It was. There's a lot of -- you know, this is completely unprecedented and uncharted waters. There has never been a challenge like this, obviously, to the Iranian elections. The Iranians like to say that they have a democratic process, as you know. It's very closely vetted. Only certain candidates are allowed to run in the election.

But generally, once it's vetted, there's a quite vigorous process. And, you know, we've never seen anything quite as vigorous as the pre-election debates on television, the amount of supporters from all candidates who were in the streets.

And then, of course, on Friday, this huge turnout that we were all allowed to see and report.

And just -- it's worth pointing out that there's been no censorship of the foreign media. I can speak for CNN. I can't tell you about everybody else. But we've been able to broadcast whatever we want, when we want live and uncensored and unmonitored, despite the fact now that reporters are being confined to their -- to their hotels.

KING: Yes. We've got to...

AMANPOUR: But all of this to say that in that evening, the Moussavi campaign came out -- he himself -- and said that he thought he had won based on campaign exit polls.

And, of course, the -- the interior ministry then came out immediately thereafter with initial results showing Ahmadinejad already...

KING: We've got to...

AMANPOUR: ...with a 2-1 lead. And that remained.

And they're saying, look, if you've got evidence of fraud, bring it to us. If you're just disgruntled and disappointed, that's not our problem.

KING: I'm going to ask the panel where they think this is all going, right after this.


KING: We'll get an opinion from each of our guests.

Shiva, where do you think is all going to lead?

ROSE: Well, that's what I'm worried about. I mean, I think that that the regime has very few options. It seems like the whole world is watching, in a way, even though they've cut back on the Internet and they're closing down all these Facebook and sites like that. People are still taping things on telephones and sending them out. And I think Twitter is working a little bit.

So I think the landscape has changed for oppressive regimes.

So I don't know. It will be interesting.

KING: Your father hosts his own program like this, right?

ROSE: Right.

KING: What does he say to you?

ROSE: He says to me that it's all -- it always comes down to human rights and that he wishes that the world would just adhere to the human rights.

KING: Reza, you're there.

Where do you think it's going to go?

Could it get worse?

SAYAH: Well, Larry, the reason that this is such a gripping, riveting political drama is that nobody knows where this is headed. You have two sides that appear to be equally determined and unwavering. And they're on a collision course.

You have the Iranian government, that has escalated its crackdown against dissent, against the foreign media. Then you also have the supporters of Mir-Hossein Moussavi, who are very much energized and riding a wave of emotions that has lasted four days. And it continues to go. I can't tell you how many people I crossed paths with in the protest a couple of days ago. And they literally told me that this is different. And they said I'm willing to die. I'm willing to take a bullet.

And this wasn't like previous protests, where you have college students and student groups. This was all walks of life, all different ages.

So the reason why this is such a gripping political drama is very few people know where this is headed -- Larry.

KING: And, Christiane, what's your read?

Where's it going?

AMANPOUR: Well, right now, it looks like the regime is allowing the political drama to play out on the streets. As you can see, there are competing rallies almost, now, on a daily basis. It's a Moussavi rally one day. It's an Ahmadinejad rally another day. It looks like they're allowing this play out on the streets and see who comes out with bigger rallies.

People are obviously very, very energized. These are the biggest anti-government demonstrations since the revolution 30 years ago. It is full of people, not just the liberal elite from Northern Tehran. It's people all across the spectrum, who want something different and who want freedom, they say; who want the ability to breathe easily in their own country; to travel; to have a country that's respected in the rest of the world; whose passport is respected; who has relations with the rest of the world.

But on the other hand, there is a paranoia amongst the Iranian regime about any notion of a Color of Velvet Revolution. This was a warning that was put out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards before the election. They thought this green Moussavi wave was yet another Color Revolution and they vowed to crush it.

They are paranoid about any U.S. NGO or pro-democracy movement or groups trying to incite something like that.

So there is a worry that that is, you know, at the forefront of their mind.

KING: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And furthermore, one of the issues of the Ahmadinejad government is that he has filled many, many key positions across the board, whether in finance, the oil industry, the transport industry, construction, diplomatic posts all over the place, with former Revolutionary Guards or even current. And this is a militarization and a radicalization of the system. And so that is -- that is the reality right now.

But on the other hand, you see this amazing outpouring of political protest into the street, which is unprecedented, even in the region, not only in Iran.

KING: Do you -- do you, Shiva, have any desire to go back?

ROSE: Yes, definitely. I mean it's where I grew up. My first 10 years were there and I have beautiful memories of Iran.

KING: If there were a new government, would you live there again?

ROSE: I would consider it. I mean, I have a family here and I have a life here. But I would definitely want to have -- that's my motherland, I suppose, or where my father's people come from. And -- and I would -- I yearn for it a lot.

KING: We all do.

Thank you all very much.

We'll be in touch a lot.

Christiane Amanpour, Reza Sayah and Shiva Rose.

The Palin-Letterman feud -- is the apology from David enough for Levi Johnston?

Maybe he thought the joke was funny.

We'll find out.

He's next, in 60 seconds.


KING: Levi joins us by phone from Anchorage, Alaska.

He's the ex-fiance of Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol, the father of their baby, Trip.

He's here tonight to talk about the joke heard around the world and the aftermath.

Now, David Letterman has issued a public apology to Governor Palin and her family for the crack he made about one of her daughters being knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.

Here's some of what he said on his show last night.


LETTERMAN: One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game. During the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.




LETTERMAN: So I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke. I'm sorry about it and I'll try to do better in the future.


KING: All right, Levi, what do you make of all of this?

LEVI JOHNSTON: Well, you know, I don't think he meant to hurt anybody. You know, he's a comedian. And that's what he's going to do. But I think he did cross a certain line.

KING: Did it bother you at all when he said it?

JOHNSTON: You know -- you know, I took it as a joke. And, you know, obviously it made Sarah and her family mad. But he's -- you know, I think it was a joke a lot of people wouldn't have liked for him to say. But, you know, that's what he does.

KING: Well, he thought that your former fiancee was at the stadium with the governor.

Do you understand that part?

JOHNSTON: Yes. That's what I'm saying is I don't think he meant it as, you know, as Willow. I believe he meant it as Bristol.

KING: Yes.

Sarah Palin says that she accepts Letterman's apology and hopes he and other men who joke about sexual exploitation of girls will evolve. She also says that Letterman certainly has the right to joke about whatever he wants to. And, thankfully, we have the right to express our reaction.

Levi, do you think all of this is going away now?

JOHNSTON: I hope so. I, you know, the more you go out and people are going to say what they want. And the more you -- you talk about it, the longer it's going to go on. If you just, you know, pick and choose what you want to talk about, you know, if you don't go out there and talk about it, it's going to go away faster than it would than it would if you were going to go out there and make a deal out of it.

KING: What's the latest?

Are you getting to see your baby?

JOHNSTON: Yes, I was actually with him all day today.

KING: Are they lightening up in that area?

JOHNSTON: They are.

KING: Did you have to go to court or did they just revolve this -- resolve it without court?

JOHNSTON: No, we're resolving it without going to court so far.

KING: How often do you get to see her -- him, rather?

I'm sorry.

JOHNSTON: Three or four times a week.

KING: Well, that's good. You're bonding.


KING: Good luck, Levi.

Thanks again, as always.

JOHNSTON: Thank you.

KING: Levi Johnston.

Kathy Griffin is chomping at the bit to get in on our latest discussion. You can bet on that, next.



GRIFFIN: You guys, so much has gone down since last season. Tonight, I'm recording my C.D. Last year, I weaseled my way into the music industry when I recorded my comedy album. I want to try and get a Grammy nomination. And I'm hoping this year that my shameless Grammy ass-kissing will pay off. And speaking of prestigious awards...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kathy Griffin, "My Life on The D-List."

GRIFFIN: I won another Emmy. And this time, I was a lady about it.

Here we are again (EXPLETIVE LANGUAGE). Here we are again.


KING: Thanks for joining us and good night.

Anyway, no...


KING: You know, one reminder. Kathy Griffin will appear at the Westberry Capitol One Bank Theatre on June 27th and 28th. And, if I can slide in a note, this Friday night, June 19th, I'll be at Steve Wynn's Encore Hotel in Las Vegas doing my little shtick.

She calls me the Jewish Bill Cosby.

GRIFFIN: Yes. That's your niche.

KING: I will -- I tell funny stories. Shawn will open and sing for me...


KING: She's terrific. It will be a great night. I hope you can come if you're in Vegas, this weekend, Friday night, The Encore Hotel. If you want to make reservations, the Web site is -- an evening with me and the wife.

GRIFFIN: Now, do you then have dinner with Steve Wynn and do you guys sit around and count his money?

KING: No, we -- I have dinner with him, but I don't count his money.

GRIFFIN: You know Steve Wynn?

KING: Very well.

GRIFFIN: Do you know...

KING: He booked me. Yes, he's...

GRIFFIN: What do you and Steve Wynn talk about?

What's -- by the way, if anyone doesn't know -- I'm going to address America.

Oh, by the way, is this show not on in Tehran?

Because, I think that the gay people in Iran would like to watch "My Life on The D-List."

KING: OK. He's a -- it's on...

GRIFFIN: And I'm going to take a political stand.

KING: It's on in Tehran.

GRIFFIN: OK. Good. I don't want the government blocking "My Life on The D-List."

KING: They're not blocking it.

GRIFFIN: Because there are gay people in Iran. I don't care what Ahmadinejacket...

KING: Well, where are we going? Are we going Steve Wynn or do you want to talk about what?

GRIFFIN: I want to talk about your interview the other night with you and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. All right...

KING: Good. Good. Good.

GRIFFIN: How many times did you just clearly want to say to him, will you touch a Jew?


GRIFFIN: I mean, seriously. The whole interview was you working up to that handshake.

KING: But, Larry, I am not anti-Jewish. I am anti-Zionist.

GRIFFIN: I know. We're -- he also thinks there's no gay people in Iran. Well, let me tell you something, if I go to Tehran, there's going to be a lot of snapping.

KING: No. But he said that's it's illegal -- it has been illegal in Iran for very long...

GRIFFIN: Well, then take me to jail, because I've been a naughty girl.


GRIFFIN: No, look...

KING: Let's go...

GRIFFIN: Do you know...

KING: Let's go to Sarah Palin first.

GRIFFIN: I can't believe I got bumped for Levi Johnston.

KING: You didn't get bumped.

GRIFFIN: Yes, I -- don't try to dress it up, Larry.

KING: He came on five minutes later.

GRIFFIN: Levi Johnston, who probably can't even spell his own name.


GRIFFIN: He doesn't know that kid's name. You were asking him if he bonds with the kid. He didn't even know the kid's name.


GRIFFIN: And -- and then he sees -- he sees the kid. You know what, he sees the kid for the photo-op in "People" magazine, where he has his shirt off.

Why can't they buy him a shirt over there at the Palin household?

KING: Let's move -- what do you make of the Letterman joke?

GRIFFIN: Well, as a matter of fact, I was on "The Letterman Show" the night that he addressed it for the first time.

KING: Oh, I didn't...

GRIFFIN: It was very exciting.



KING: And?

GRIFFIN: And he was saying that he made a joke and it was in bad taste, but he's made thousands of jokes in bad taste and the audience laughed.

So I think that the governor, Palin, is a moron. I would use that as a technical term. And I would say that the first dude seems like a tool. What that means is he seems, you know, kind of useless and lazy and shiftless. And I wonder how he wears that ski suit all the time and how he goes to the bathroom. But that's not my business. I'm a political comedian.

KING: All right. The question was, what do you make of the Letterman incident?

GRIFFIN: Oh. Well, I think he should be allowed to say whatever he wants. And he is David Letterman...

KING: Do you think it was in bad taste?

GRIFFIN: Yes. I loved it.


GRIFFIN: I think it could be in worse taste and...

KING: If he was referring to the 14-year-old.

GRIFFIN: I would like to refer and make fun of all the kids, including the infants. So I believe...

KING: Why?

Why would you do that?

GRIFFIN: I just think it's fun. I think that comedians should have a little bit of a -- I call it the Rickles license to kill.

You know how Rickles can say things that no one else can get away with?

KING: Correct.

What are they going to do to him?

GRIFFIN: What are they going to do to him?

And, so, you know, Letterman is the great Letterman. And he was clearly making a joke and it was a funny joke...

KING: Do you think he's clearly now a little chagrined, a little sad, a little...

GRIFFIN: No, he's winning the ratings war, I think.


GRIFFIN: You know, he's winning.

KING: Do you...

GRIFFIN: He can apologize all day because he's taking those ratings to the bank.

KING: Do you think he might invite her on the show?

GRIFFIN: He did. When I -- the night that I was there, he said the governor has an open invitation. But she's too stupid...

KING: Do you think she should go?

GRIFFIN: No. No. I mean he's going to -- she's going to be -- he's going to like work her like a bag in the gym. Badadadadada. She doesn't know. Did -- Katie Couric, who does nothing but want to talk about shoes...


GRIFFIN: know, threw her for a loop. I mean if you can't handle Couric, don't go to Letterman, you know.

KING: So you make -- all of this is what to you?

GRIFFIN: It's all fodder.

KING: Fodder?

GRIFFIN: It's all fair game. It's all fodder. Yes.

KING: Where -- what do you think is going to happen to Levi?

Do you think he's going to...

GRIFFIN: Oh, I think he's going to be a Supreme Court justice. He's going to be the chief one and take over for John Roberts.


GRIFFIN: Look out Sotomayor, because here comes Levi Johnston, chief Supreme -- look, he's an idiot. He'll be lucky to get some welfare, you know.


GRIFFIN: And she'd better watch where that state funding goes and take those checks, because he's going to need it more than the rest of the state is.

KING: Do you think...

GRIFFIN: He's going to be shirtless in an igloo.

KING: Do you think Sarah might be president some day?

GRIFFIN: No. Oh, God.

Can you imagine?

No. I would -- well, you know who I want to be president is...

KING: Who?

GRIFFIN: ...Suze Orman. I think she would be the perfect president.

KING: Why?

GRIFFIN: Because you need a good financially focused lesbian in the White House, that's why.

What did I say?

KING: Were you -- do you know Suze well?

GRIFFIN: Yes. As a matter of fact, I went to an awards show with her and she was my date.

KING: You -- wait a minute.

GRIFFIN: And I'm trying to start...

KING: Wait a minute.


Breaking news.

KING: You know she is gay.

GRIFFIN: Openly gay.

KING: So... GRIFFIN: And her girlfriend, Kathy, gave me permission for one night. And if you could help me start a rumor that I'm in a lesbian relationship with her or with Sarah Palin, it could only help "My Life on The D-List."..

KING: You're...

GRIFFIN: ...Mondays at Bravo.

KING: But you're -- you're so big now, do you need this anymore?

GRIFFIN: Yes, I do. I need it all. I got bumped for Levi Johnston, Larry.

KING: All right.

GRIFFIN: How do you sleep nights?

KING: You didn't get bumped. We -- five minutes later...

GRIFFIN: Levi Johnston with the shirt off and the kid he can't identify out of a lineup. I mean, come on.

KING: I didn't do it, the producer...

GRIFFIN: How did she get to become governor?

Who votes over -- Alaska, come on. And vie played Alaska.

KING: Yes?

How did you do there?

GRIFFIN: I actually did well, but I was on a lesbian cruise with Rosie O'Donnell.

KING: A lesbian...


GRIFFIN: So that's my wheelhouse.

Now, look...

KING: Let me get a break here.

We'll come back, OK?

GRIFFIN: What's the matter, Levi's on line two?


GRIFFIN: Oh, Levi. He's named after a jean. He's named after pants.

(LAUGHTER) KING: Our Jonas Brothers special -- I'm afraid to ask you about them.

GRIFFIN: Oh, OK. All right.

KING: Hold it -- is this Thursday. And if you can't wait for it...

GRIFFIN: I can't.

KING: ...then come...

GRIFFIN: I can't wait.

KING: ...go to and see highlights of their London stop.

Kathy's opinions about them, which could blow the interview, after this.


KING: We're back with Kathy Griffin. Don't forget, she's appearing at the Westburry Capital One Bank Theater June 27th and 28th. Two plugs.

GRIFFIN: If it's -- if a bank owns it, I'm nervous. Is it even still going to be there?

KING: They'll pay you. Capital One, they're solid. We're going to do the Jonas Brothers. Have you seen their work?

GRIFFIN: Do you see the look on my face This is my reaction to you talking about the Jonas Brothers. First of all, name them.

KING: Kevin, Joe, and Nick.

GRIFFIN: OK. Well, what you don't know is their real names are Hymey, Pishic, and Herb (ph).

KING: They're Jewish.

GRIFFIN: That's right.

KING: The truth is out. This will double their rate now.

GRIFFIN: I'm sorry, I can't resist. Let's mu just say, I will be watching. I was watching with baited breath last night when you had Spidey on.

KING: Heidi and Spencer, that's Spidey.

GRIFFIN: As if you know who that is, Larry. OK, tell me your favorite story line on "The Hills."

KING: I don't know the show. I do what I'm supposed to do. They came on. Everybody tells me it's news. I ask them questions. Do you watch that show?

GRIFFIN: Of course, I do.

KING: Why?

GRIFFIN: Because I don't have a life, Larry. I just watch shows so I can come here and make you laugh.

KING: What do you make of Heidi and Spencer?

GRIFFIN: Well, I think they're idiots. I don't see how they can even function. I think there's a learning disability there, a serious one.

KING: Are you putting them with the Palins? Is that what you're doing?

GRIFFIN: Well, they're not that bad.

KING: Not that bad?

GRIFFIN: No. I don't know what's going on with that whole family.

KING: What do you make of Heidi and Spencer?

GRIFFIN: I think Heidi and Spencer are ridiculous. And I'll tell you that I met them recently at a party. And I felt very fancy being at this Hollywood party. And then Heidi and Spencer came up to me. And Spencer said, oh I wanted to meet you, because you're a fame whore like us. So I got served by Spidey. Spencer said -- don't laugh, don't take his side. I'm counting on your support.

KING: Do you think you are a fame whore?

GRIFFIN: Yes. But I don't need to be told by Spencer.

KING: Did you just get a text message from Cher?


KING: What did she say?

GRIFFIN: Well, first of all, are you impressed I'm friends with Cher?

KING: Very.

GRIFFIN: Do you know her?

KING: Yes.

GRIFFIN: Prove it.

KING: OK, I've known her a long time. I went backstage when she was recently performing in Vegas. The night that Ross Perot left the race for the presidency, Cher called in crying, because she loved him and was mad.

GRIFFIN: Oh, my god. You do know her.

KING: Of course I know her. I knew her with Sonny in the old days.

GRIFFIN: I just want you to know, this is who I got calls from. I swear I'm not making this up. In the last half hour before I came on and watched that riveting interview with Shiva Rose, who really misses her mother land -- me too, it's called Forest Park, Illinois. I haven't been there since I was ten. I can't stop thinking about it.

Anyway, I got calls from Cher and Bette Midler within a half an hour.

KING: Saying what?

GRIFFIN: Bette Midler was actually very glad the way she was portrayed on the season premier of "My Life on the D List," which got its highest ratings in five years. And Cher was calling because when I was talking to your producers yesterday, they asked me about Chaz. And I said, well, you know, what do we want me to say about Chaz. We discussed it and I didn't know how much was private conversation and that stuff.

So she just said, well, I support her completely. She's my daughter. I'm nervous about it. And I don't quite understand it, but I support her. And I don't know if we say her or him with Chaz.

KING: What do you make of it?

GRIFFIN: Well, I think it's kind of like the LGBTQI community. I'm very active in.

KING: What is that?

GRIFFIN: LGBT is lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender. Tell me if I ring a bell with any of these, Larry. Come on. And then the Q is for questioning. You know how you've had those nights when you're leaving the bar and you're not quite sure where to go.

KING: You're kidding me, aren't you? Do you really think that?

GRIFFIN: And the other is called intersex.

KING: What's that?

GRIFFIN: I don't know. I was hoping you would. I think maybe the Jonas Brothers might know.

KING: Intersex.

GRIFFIN: You know what? I support them, whatever they are.

KING: Aren't you happy for Cher's daughter? GRIFFIN: I want Chaz to be happy. The funny thing is, I still don't know if I say he or she. So I'm sort of treating Chaz like the It's Pat character on "Saturday Night Live," where I find myself, instead of saying he or she --

KING: That was a great character.

GRIFFIN: I know. I keep saying Chaz.

KING: Chaz is either way.

GRIFFIN: Yes, Chaz is a good neutral, all for it.

KING: Great name. The great Kathy Griffin. I call you great because you are a great comedian. You have gone from a good performer to a great comedian.

GRIFFIN: I have two Emmies. Do you have any Emmies?

KING: Yes.

GRIFFIN: How many?

KING: One.

GRIFFIN: I have two. I'm like Spidey to you.

KING: How many Peabodies?

GRIFFIN: Is that for journalism?

KING: Yes.


KING: I have two. Only radio talk show to ever get one.

GRIFFIN: Screw Amanpour, you're Larry King.

KING: Screw Amanpour.

GRIFFIN: That's right, you know she's watching this. She's a big fan of mine.

KING: We'll be back. I almost said Kathy Lee Gifford. Almost said it.

GRIFFIN: Larry, you promised.

KING: Well, you look alike.

GRIFFIN: This is supposed to be my big break.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: And from now on, by the way, Chaz will be referred to as a he. If that's what he, that's what he gets.

GRIFFIN: Whatever Chaz wants, that's what Chaz gets.

KING: Chaz and Cher are always invited here to LARRY KING LIVE. She's not kidding. I'll show you the note she got from Bette Midler, in Bette Midler's own handwriting.

GRIFFIN: After being on "My Life On The D List," season premiere. We treat our guests right.

KING: The best response I've ever had, from Bette Midler.

GRIFFIN: That will be framed.

KING: Other things, what do you make of "Jon & Kate Plus 8?"

GRIFFIN: Well, I think -- I'm going to go a little against the grain, because everybody hates Kate and thinks she's a nightmare. Granted, her lesbian haircut is ridiculous. It looks like one of those kids got the scissors. So there's some sort of Edward Scissors Hand things happening here.

But I will say that Jon, with his hair plugs and eye rolling, seems useless. So it does seem like she actually takes care of the kids to an extent. And then he's out on his ridiculous Ed Hardy sportswear, with pictures of tigers on his butt. So he should lose the hoodie.

KING: What do you make of the whole phenomena?

GRIFFIN: It is, indeed, a phenomenon. I will admit -- and I admit that I'm a negative person. And my negativity is like a hug from Jesus for me, for some reason. But anyway, I admit that I get more out of the show watching them talk about their failing marriage than watching those annoying kids run around and spit on each other. I like the "Breaking Bonaduce" aspect of Jon & Kate. So -- yes, that was a ground breaking show about Danny Bonaduce and his struggles.

I do find Jon & Kate compelling, but not when they actually talk about their annoying children. I find it more compelling when they're just fighting.

KING: Annoying marriage.

GRIFFIN: It's more interesting to me.

KING: Bill Maher says --

GRIFFIN: Our old pal. Yes.

KING: He says that Obama is over-exposed, and becoming too much of a celebrity. Do you agree?

GRIFFIN: No. So Bill Maher is saying he's kind of the spidey of the White House. No, I like seeing him. I think he's cute. And I think he should do maybe a part on "The Guiding Light," as well. He's got what they call the look. He's got the it factor.

KING: Who would he play on "Guiding Light?"

GRIFFIN: He could be the new bad boy in town. Maybe he'd come in with an eye patch.

KING: I'd like that.

GRIFFIN: You know, he'd probably be, you know, involved in several affairs, that sort of thing. Maybe become mayor of the town, something political. But I think he's interesting to watch. And it's nice --

KING: He doesn't call the press and say follow me today. They follow him. He goes to New York to the theater -- what, he's not supposed to go to the theater?

GRIFFIN: Well, he should do what he sees fit. I trust his judgment more than that George W. Bush, who I think is a big idiot. Now that he's not the president, I think I can say, George Bush, you're an idiot. Because that's not disrespectful, because he's no longer the president. You're a moron.

KING: What did you say --

GRIFFIN: Really, what were you thinking? Seriously, the free ride's over. Did you jump out of a plane? Not soon enough.

KING: What did you say when he was president?

GRIFFIN: He was an idiot. But, you know, as an American, I would have to say I support that.

KING: Aren't you glad you live in a land where you can say whenever you want?

GRIFFIN: Yes, as a matter of fact, on the D List, we have all sorts of guests. Get this on the D List, we literally have everyone from --

KING: Who's coming?

GRIFFIN: Paris Hilton, on of your faves. Salmon Rushdie, because I'm writing a book, and I'm writing -- and so I had to talk to authors. And by the way, the name of my book is -- it's coming out in September and it's called "Official Book Club Selection," because I'm trying to manipulate you into thinking it's on the --

GRIFFIN: KING: What about my book, "My Remarkable Journey."

GRIFFIN: I congratulate you on being on the best seller list. Now I know how much work it is. Congratulations. It's a lot of freaking work.

KING: And you're going to call your book that?

GRIFFIN: "Official Book Club Selection." And then we do an episode on the D List where the Reverend Al Sharpton -- I just think he's great. Very funny and fearless. And I do an episode on the role of race in stand-up comedy. Is comedy color blind? And I get advice from Kat Williams, who I think is brilliant. And then I go do a set at the word famous, iconic theater in Harlem, the Apollo Theater.

KING: Did you break them up?

GRIFFIN: Let me just say, it doesn't necessarily go my way. I will say that Reverend Al gave me an intro and he gave me the best intro --

KING: What kind of material did you do?

GRIFFIN: Well, I made nothing racially insensitive, of course, but I did go for the -- gosh, I'm on CNN. Let's just say the language that is not -- it is -- I like vulgarity. And I made a very innocent joke about how the Octomom's mouth looks like a different body part is on her face. And it was --

KING: Did that go over?

GRIFFIN: With the audience.

KING: Kathy Griffin --

GRIFFIN: What'd I say? What happened?

KING: We're going to be serious with Kathy Griffin, really, in 60 seconds.


KING: Hard to break from the frivolity, but we're going to try. It's time for our impact your world segment. Kathy Griffin is making a difference for veterans. She's involved with a group called Vet Dogs. What is it?

GRIFFIN: OK, go to And this is a great organization. In fact, they're based out of Long Island. And, you know, I went to -- performed in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Middle East. And when our injured vets come back -- in fact, last year -- there I am with one of the guys. And last year, we did a whole episode at Walter Reid Army Medical Center. And when you see the impact that these guide dogs -- and they're guide dogs, therapy dogs, balance dogs -- have on our injured vets, it sometimes can make all of the difference in the world. It can maybe take them from unemployable to employable.

KING: How did you get into that?

GRIFFIN: I think -- you know, when I was over in Afghanistan, I heard about the organization, because some of the injured guys over there had some of these vet dogs. And I just saw it firsthand. KING: The money you raised goes to do what?

GRIFFIN: It goes to train the dogs. Each -- I think each dog costs something like 50,000 dollars to completely train. And some of the guys, you know, they're missing a limb. And some of the guys, believe it or not, these dogs help with everything from just simple, you know, depression to making these guys mobile, helps them connect, you know, in an emotional way, as well.

It's really amazing when you see these vets come back and get one of these dogs.

KING: So if you want more information, it's

GRIFFIN: Or go to my website There's a link on there.

KING: You must feel very proud of that.

GRIFFIN: It's a great organization.

KING: It's a noble thing.

GRIFFIN: And I meet soldiers every show I do before the show. And I'm hooked up with another organization that does that. And, of course -- you know, once you go over there, it really is a life- changing thing.

KING: Is it hard to do comedy for injured soldiers?

GRIFFIN: Well, what I learned is that you have to let go of your nerves about going too far. These are men and women. I performed literally in a war zone, at Walter Reid, et cetera. They've seen everything. While the commanding officers will say, please don't curse and please don't do this or that; once you're out there and you kind of take their temperature, usually I found that these guys, they want you to go for it.

There's nothing they haven't heard, you know. So often they can be the most outrageous audiences you can imagine.

KING: And again, it's More of Kathy Griffin, the great Kathy Griffin.

GRIFFIN: I'd like to train one of those Jonas Brothers on a leash, walk around my house with one of those.

KING: Take them home with you.

GRIFFIN: Maybe Kevin.

KING: I knew it would be Kevin. We'll be right back after this.


(NEWS BREAK) GRIFFIN: I'm fascinated by the America's High. How much research have you been doing on the America's High story?

KING: Anderson.

GRIFFIN: Anderson is a pot head. I had no idea. It's he and that Erica Hill. I've heard. I can't prove it.

KING: Erica has the wide eyes.

GRIFFIN: Exactly. They are like pin wheels.

KING: Andy, we'll see you at the top of the hour.


KING: Our big show with the Jonas Brothers is just two days away. You got a question for Nick or Joe or Kevin, go to --

GRIFFIN: Actually, I have several.

KING: Go to Here is what the guys were up to in Paris. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Paris.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's about a quarter to six. We are going to go to sleep, get a nap, and then next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's only one entrance in. So got to get in and then got to get out. Hey, got to love it. It's all good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's always the same questions. So it is just like what are your influences?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like when I'm being translated that it is being completely translated incorrectly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just find is so beautiful, the architecture, everything. There's so much history in this place. It is incredible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Promo we have to do. The music is all part of the fun in the end. And we meet a lot of amazing people along the way and having a good time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We get along really well. We are each other's best friends. We have our band, who are our best friends. We get to hang out with them digitally and as a group. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love you. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Feel better. Don't pass out again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three!



KING: See more at Check out our incredible behind the scenes access. Time for our last two remarkable questions. Going out with a bang, drum roll. Question -- and our real question comes from --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the best concert that you have ever seen?


KING: Thank you Jonas Brothers. I didn't hear the first part of the question. But second part of the question, best concert I ever seen is everyone Frank Sinatra ever did. What was the first part, guys?

GRIFFIN: Favorite artist?

KING: Favorite musician.

GRIFFIN: Who was your favorite musician?

KING: Willie Nelson.


KING: Our real question of night --

GRIFFIN: Keeping in mind with that pot theme with Anderson.

KING: Comes from Lisa in Port Smith, Arkansas: "what would be the perfect sunrise to sunset day that you would have with Cannon and Chance?"

I'm going to have it Father's Day. I'm taking my boys down to Anaheim to see the Los Angeles Dodgers play the California Angels. Going to be with the players on the field before the game. That's a day.

Lisa and all our questioners are getting an autographed copy of "My Remarkable Journey." One of them will be coming here to meet me and see our show live. I'm looking forward to it. We've got almost 100,000 submissions. Thanks to all of you were writing and watching. When we come back with Kathy, the big question of the night, her thoughts on Miss California. Don't go away.


KING: Back with Kathy Griffin. What about the controversy involving the now dethroned Miss California, Carrie Prejean?

GRIFFIN: I love it. On The D List this year, we do a whole Prop Eight episode. I take my mother to a rally, the 89-year-old activist. We kind of do a little bit of serious episode. We talked to Melissa Etheridge and her wife.

Carrie Prejean, it was fun to see her dethroned, because what was she thinking saying to Perez Hilton, of all people, I'm against gay marriage, and it is against the teachings of Baby Jesus, whatever their usual bunk is. What I want to know is, her name is Prejean. Is she related to Sister Mary Prejean? Remember, from "Dead Man Walking? What if they're like sisters. Exactly. I would like to see her have to become a nun and go visit guys in prison, who are gay.

KING: How do you think Donald Trump handled it?

GRIFFIN: I'm not a fan of Trump. I don't care for him.

KING: Why?

GRIFFIN: I don't like him. He seems affected and like a bully. I don't like him. I don't think he has that much money, either. I think he has a lot of money. But I think someone is cooking the books over there at the Trump building. Yes, I'd like to see the financial.

KING: The question was how do you think he handled it?

GRIFFIN: Well, he walked the line. He did what he always does. He was like kind of in favor of her, kind of not. But did he dethrone her personally? By that I mean dethrone her.

KING: I think management did, but then he came on to --

GRIFFIN: Clean up the mess.

KING: In accord with their decision.

GRIFFIN: I think it is a dumb show.

KING: Would you enter a beauty contest?

GRIFFIN: I entered several and won them all, in my head. No, I think they are silly. They're not -- what do you think Gloria Steinem thinks about beauty pageants? What the heck did we fight so hard for?

So no, I think they're silly. But I do look super hot in a bikini. You know that, Larry.

KING: Where did that appear? There it is. Look. Where was that.

GRIFFIN: It's called a banging bikini bod.

KING: Where was that?

GRIFFIN: That is me with Paris Hilton, my BFF. We're at a hotel pool picking up guys, being sexy.

KING: What does it feel like to wear a bikini? Does it turn yourself on?

GRIFFIN: It turns myself on, but not as much as the men around the pool. By men, I mean Kate Gosselin, because I'm having an affair with her. If you could help spread that word, that would really help.

KING: We've got you with Kate Gosselin. We've got you with Suze Orman.

GRIFFIN: Sarah Palin.

KING: Sarah Palin.

GRIFFIN: Rosie O'Donnell. Levi Johnston. Anyone you think I can have an affair with that will help people watch "My Life on the D- List" Sundays -- I mean Mondays on Bravo.

KING: Wait a minute. If it would help you, would you to date Levi Johnston?

GRIFFIN: I would do more than date him, Larry. I would finish him off.

KING: Finish him off?

GRIFFIN: I mean that in a --

KING: I notice the look on your face. I think you are secretly attracted to him.

GRIFFIN: I'm more than secretly. I'm very attracted to him. I don't ever want him to put that shirt back on. I want to close the gates of the igloo.

KING: You've mentioned that shirt five times. So there's something. We are out of time, Kathy.


KING: Come back soon.

GRIFFIN: Oh, Larry.

KING: One of our favorite people, the wonderful Kathy Griffin.

GRIFFIN: You had to let me down. You almost said Kathie Lee Gifford again. KING: Thanks for tuning in, Frank. Time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?