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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview with Gayle King/Interview with Craig Ferguson

Aired October 13, 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, TV's late late king, Craig Ferguson. The comic laughs about his boss, David Letterman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRAIG FERGUSON, TALK SHOW HOST, COMEDIAN: Whenever I see someone in the public eye who is in an embarrassing situation like this, I always think well, I'm really glad it's not me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

L. KING: He doesn't let Obama off the hook, either.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FERGUSON: If you feel that way (INAUDIBLE) for giving out prizes and it frustrates me, I think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

L. KING: Then he gets serious about an addiction that almost killed him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FERGUSON: I could never predict what was going to happen. If I had, you know, if I had a scotch now, maybe nothing would happen and maybe I'd go nuts. I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

L. KING: Plus, opera's best friend, Gayle King, speaks with the mother of one of the Columbine killers, who reveals she had no clue that the son she loved was going to commit mass murder.

It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

In a little while, Craig Ferguson joins us.

But we begin tonight with an old friend, Gayle King, the editor- at-large of "O," the "Oprah" magazine. The November issue of "O" now on sale. It includes a compelling personal essay by Susan Klebold, the mother of Columbine shooter, Dylan Klebold.

How did this interview come about, Gayle? How did you get this story?

GAYLE KING, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "O: THE OPRAH MAGAZINE": Well, Larry, I have to say, it -- it started with the Oprah TV show. You know, the TV producers have been talking to her for over 10 years. And within the last few months, Susan Klebold decided that she was not up to doing a TV interview, but she wanted to write an essay. She really wanted to tell the story from her point of view. She wrote an essay and she shared it with "O," the "Oprah" magazine. That's how we got it.

It started on the TV side and ended up with the magazine. And for that, we are very grateful.

L. KING: Did you interview her for the essay?

G. KING: No, I have to say the genius, the champion of this piece was Deborah Ray, one of our executive editors, because it started out as an essay and it -- with Deborah's back and forth with Susan Klebold, getting more information and talking to her, I did ultimately talk to Susan -- Susan Klebold. But I really do have to give the credit for Deborah Ray.

It's called, Larry, as you know, good reporting, good producing. You know, Susan Klebold would say something and Deborah would say, well, what we were you thinking?

Where were you going?

Where do you work?

Just to draw out all the details. And what you end up with is a very compelling piece.

L. KING: What were your impressions of her from talking with her?

G. KING: You know, this is the thing -- you know, I was one of these par -- my -- myself included. A lot of parents are sitting there with their arms crossed, how could she not know, what kind of mother was she, she must have been neglectful, she must not have been involved.

In talking to her, she's very thoughtful, she's very honest. She was extremely candid. And she said I -- we came from a very loving, engaged family. My husband and I -- all of our decisions that we made were kid-centric.

The -- the question that people should ask, instead of saying how could she not know, the better question is, how are kids able to hide what they hid?

She said Dylan showed no warning signs whatsoever. What they now realize, after seeing his journals and looking at videotapes, what they now realize is they believe that he was an undiagnosed -- a person who suffered from depression and mental illness. You know, she sees this more of a suicide -- as a suicide story about her son. She's not minimizing or negating the murders. She's not doing that.

But she's only talking out now because she believed that she could possibly help others.

L. KING: Does she at all have any guilt?

G. KING: Oh, my gosh. She -- you know, Larry, she said you could beat yourself up. Was it the yellow birthday cake?

Was it the time that I didn't go to this game?

Was it the time I had said something or didn't do something?

And she said I played out the scenario a million times in my life -- what did I possibly do?

She writes in the magazine about Dylan's last day, when she had heard him running down the steps to go out to school. And the parents, they would always talk, how are you, I love you, have a good day.

On this particular day, she heard Dylan's steps running down the hallway, "Dyl, where are you going, have a good day." And he's out the doors and all he said was, "Bye."

She replays that over and over and over -- what if I had seen him that last morning?

What if we had had a conversation?

She feels tremendous guilt and sorrow. And imagine, she has lost a son, but she's also haunted by the actions that her son caused to other people. She's -- she feels very haunted by that.

L. KING: I remember once a psychologist at my old radio show told me we should remember that Lee Harvey Oswald's mother is as unhappy as Rose Kennedy.

Because -- because...

G. KING: Yes.

L. KING: When you think about that...

G. KING: That's very true.

L. KING: Susan lost a son...

G. KING: That's very true.

L. KING: ...who did a heinous thing.

G. KING: Yes.

L. KING: So when she thinks of it...

G. KING: Yes.

L. KING: ...does it all run together?

G. KING: And, you know, and she is not trying to, again, minimize what has happened to others. She said, you know -- and she's a little concerned about stepping out here in this way. She knows that she's opening up for hatred and anger and condemnation and that -- and she is trying to do everything she can to avoid that. She said she reached out and wrote a letter to every single family who had lost a loved one, including people who had also been injured. She wanted them to know how sorry she was and how she blames herself for not -- for not seeing the signs, for not really understanding how sick Dylan appeared to be.

But she was told by a therapist, you have got to stop doing that because you are retraumatizing people. Let them come to you. And, ultimately, when she did meet with some Columbine families who agreed to meet with her, she said it was a very healing process for her. But she knows there is still a lot of work to do. She knows people are very angry and that some people will never ever forgive. She realizes that.

L. KING: In this...

G. KING: But, Larry, she's concerned about the suicide aspects.

L. KING: And this...

G. KING: She's really concerned. She wants people to understand...

L. KING: Yes.

G. KING: ...that there was a murder. But she doesn't believe that those murders would have been committed if Dylan had not been suicidal.

L. KING: In fact, in this terrific piece -- here's an excerpt from Susan's essay, "The Issue of Suicide": "Dylan's participation in the massacre was impossible for me to accept until I began to connect it to his own death. And once I saw his journals..."

G. KING: Yes.

L. KING: ..."it was clear to me that Dylan entered the school with the intention of dying there. And so in order to understand what he might have been thinking"...

G. KING: Yes.

L. KING: ..."I started to learn all I could about suicide."

And then the question becomes, Gayle -- this would have to be your educated guess -- why didn't he just kill himself?

G. KING: Well, you know, when you look at the statistics, there's a very small group of people -- only 1 to 2 percent -- who, in addition to killing themselves, kill other people.

L. KING: All right.

G. KING: She said I will never ever know the answer to that question.

But this is a kid, Larry, who had gone to the prom, you know, the -- the weekend before this terrible day, on a Tuesday. He had been accepted at four colleges. She said he didn't like school and he was a little reluctant about -- you know, she was thinking maybe he's a little quiet because he doesn't want to go to college.

But you -- the -- the puzzle pieces that she had to put together, nothing could have ever revealed this -- nothing.

L. KING: How's the other son doing?

G. KING: You know, when I said that she was forthcoming about everything, that -- that is a question that I did ask her. She said I'm not talking about my other son. I'm not talking about my husband. This is my story. This is a story that I am sharing. They do not want to participate. They do not want to be involved. So she would not answer that question.

L. KING: All right. Gayle, I thank you very much. This is...

G. KING: I asked it, too, Larry, because I was wondering.

L. KING: Yes.

G. KING: I asked the question, too, Larry, because that's definitely something I was wondering.

L. KING: Well, it's a terrific piece. I salute you and give my best to O.

G. KING: Thank you.

L. KING: And the magazine is really thriving.

Good seeing you, Gayle.

G. KING: Thank you, Larry King.

Thank you.

Nice to see you, too.

L. KING: The November issue out right now -- a must read.

Craig Ferguson is here. He works for David Letterman.

So what's he think about his boss now?

He's got a great book out. Find out all about it after the break. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE LATE LATE SHOW," COURTESY CBS/WORLDWIDE PANTS)

FERGUSON: He pays (ph) on late night television. I go up myself and tell him a little bit of a situation, which he's, you know, dealing with and he's my boss. And my job is to, you know, take the number one news story of the day and then have a bit of fun with it.

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON:

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

L. KING: He's the author of a terrific new book. There you see it's cover, "Craig Ferguson's American On Purpose." He just became a citizen. It explains the title. A terrific read. There's the cover with the kilts.

I had the pleasure of doing Craig's show -- one of the best shows I ever appeared on, just to have fun.

Let's deal with first things first, the David Letterman situation. You work for Mr. Letterman. So...

FERGUSON: I do work for Mr. Letterman.

L. KING: Does he sign you checks?

FERGUSON: Yes, he -- does he?

I think I -- yes, he might, Dave or CBS. One...

L. KING: So it's Worldwide Pants, though, that does...

FERGUSON: Yes. Yes.

L. KING: All right.

FERGUSON: Are you implying I got the job in some kind of...

L. KING: No, no, no.

FERGUSON: No, I'm just saying.

L. KING: I want -- I want everyone to take a look, in case they missed it...

FERGUSON: All right.

L. KING: ...on how you handled the Letterman situation.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE LATE LATE SHOW," COURTESY CBS/WORLDWIDE PANTS)

FERGUSON: Just for a second, put yourself in my position. If you don't -- I'm sure you already know. David Letterman, the king of late night television, unless you believe the NBC press release, the king of late night television got himself into a little bit of a situation which he's, you know, dealing with. And he's my boss.

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: And my job is to, you know, take the number one news story of the day and have a bit of fun with it.

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: Imagine your boss. See, so like your boss is caught with his -- no, that's a bad example. Your...

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: Wait. Stop it. Your boss is caught in a -- situation in which he -- or she, because ladies can be bosses, too.

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: I look forward to your letters.

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: You are -- the person that you work for, the person you admire and respect is caught in an embarrassing situation. And your job is to be funny about that...

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: ...whilst trying to keep your own job.

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: So this is my last show.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FERGUSON: Hmm.

L. KING: Did you write that?

FERGUSON: I didn't even write that, I just said it. I...

L. KING: Oh...

(CROSS TALK)

FERGUSON: Yes. Yes. We don't -- we don't -- that particular part of the show isn't written. I just go out and we get going. It's kind of like what you do. You've just got to start talking.

L. KING: You go do it, yes.

FERGUSON: Yes, yes, yes.

L. KING: Have you heard from David?

FERGUSON: No. No. I don't -- I think he's busy right now.

L. KING: But it was a brilliant way to handle a tough situation.

FERGUSON: Well, I think it is that, you know, it's just a -- it's a difficult situation. I mean, and I meant every word of it. It's difficult. I don't know the ins and outs of the case any more than -- than anyone else. I can't speculate on it. So the -- but the added treat I have is that Dave is my boss and I admire and respect Dave. And -- and so it was a difficult situation.

L. KING: Does he at all get involved in your show?

FERGUSON: Not much, no. Dave kind of, you know, he's got a daily show to do. He's got his own show to make. So -- so I -- very rarely I -- I will -- I will contact Dave.

L. KING: How about the exec producers?

Do they contact you?

FERGUSON: No. We're -- they're -- they're on the -- they're all on the East Coast. So they're all doing that. They're all working on Dave's show. And we work very quietly making our little show on the West Coast, staying out of the way.

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: Just like sneak it out. We try and stay out of trouble.

L. KING: There are reports today, Mr. Ferguson, that one college is discussing not allowing their students to intern at that show.

What do you think of that?

FERGUSON: I've -- OK.

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: That's good advice, yes.

L. KING: OK. Good deal.

FERGUSON: That's good advice.

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: That's their business.

FERGUSON: I -- I -- I... L. KING: Hope to (INAUDIBLE).

FERGUSON: Yes, fine.

L. KING: All right. One other thing on the Letterman thing and then we'll go to your brilliant book.

FERGUSON: Oh, thank you.

L. KING: How do you feel about his whole situation?

FERGUSON: I feel terribly sorry for him because of how embarrassed I know he must be. You know Dave, he's very quiet.

L. KING: Yes, I know.

FERGUSON: And he's a very kind of private guy. So I think that he must be very embarrassed and very uncomfortable with this. But like in the sit -- whenever I see someone in the public eye who is in an embarrassing situation like this, I always think, oh, I'm really glad it's not me.

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: Do you think that, too?

L. KING: Well, of course. You put yourself in their shoes.

FERGUSON: Yes. You just think, oh, I'm really glad it's not me.

L. KING: Because it could happen to you.

FERGUSON: Oh, yes, it could easily happen to me. You know me. I -- but the thing is, as well, it's -- it's difficult because, you know, I -- I -- yet everyone is speculating on the assumptions. And I -- I don't know what's going on.

L. KING: Yes. Well -- well, cable television's other name is speculation, right?

FERGUSON: Speculate on the assumptions. That's true.

L. KING: Craig Ferguson is the guest, "American On Purpose" is the book. It's a major best seller.

We'll get his observations about Obama and Palin. He'll make us laugh, after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE LATE LATE SHOW," COURTESY CBS/WORLDWIDE PANTS)

FERGUSON: Oh, look, it's my little boy, Craig.

(LAUGHTER) FERGUSON: The great Brian definitely Craig's (INAUDIBLE). Humbug. I like big butts and I cannot lie. I can see right out my pant leg, if I look the right way.

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: I know. And I see I'm very happy to be here.

(LAUGHTER)

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and Gentlemen, Craig Ferguson.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

L. KING: When you go out, do you have an idea where you're going with the monologue?

FERGUSON: With the monologue, yes. I mean, I work with -- we have a -- we have about eight or nine writers on the show. And then the more...

L. KING: So that that's all done?

FERGUSON: Yes, well, it's not -- we don't write it, as such, as, you know, it's written down in -- in that way. But we have a set of bullet points and a bunch of -- maybe a couple of topical gags at the start to get me rolling and then a bunch of bullet points to -- to shape the monologue.

But there -- there's two or three minutes at the very beginning of the show which is like turn the camera on, go, see whatever happens.

L. KING: All right. A couple of quick things and then we're going to get to the book.

FERGUSON: All right.

L. KING: What do you make of Obama and the Nobel Prize?

FERGUSON: I -- you know, it's -- I think it might be -- no disrespect to the president. It could be a little early for giving out prizes in the administration, I think. However, I feel that I would like one, too.

L. KING: (INAUDIBLE).

FERGUSON: Also, I thought that the -- that when you found out that the Cubs are -- are filing for bankruptcy and they're in Chicago. So the people from Chicago are spending a lot of money that they don't have. I'm thinking that the Cubs will get the Nobel Prize next year.

(LAUGHTER)

L. KING: That's a good point.

FERGUSON: They might. They might.

L. KING: Are you anxious to read Sarah Palin's book?

FERGUSON: Yes. Yes, I'd quite like to read her book. I -- I'd be excited to hear about, you know, what it's like to live in the wild up there and watching the Russians from your house and see what's going on.

I -- I don't know much about Sarah Palin other than -- and this is true -- I had her before all the -- she became the running mate for John McCain, when she was just the governor of Alaska, she sent me a tape. I'm not kidding. Their office sent me a tape, unsolicited by me, offering me honorary citizenship of Alaska for a little bit on the show. You know, that -- we were doing a bit about...

L. KING: You mean to put her on the show?

FERGUSON: Yes. Well, they asked if -- if she could be on the show. And I was like, I can't fly down the governor of Alaska. We don't have that kind of money. And -- and, anyway, you know, no -- no thanks.

And then she became the running mate for John McCain and I said, I'll have you on the show now. And she was like, no, no, too late, loser and didn't come on.

L. KING: That's a great story.

FERGUSON: That's a true story.

L. KING: Have something to say to Craig?

Go to CNN.com/LarryKing, click on the blog and tell us if -- if humor is borne from pain, it might explain Craig's success as a comedian. Wait till you see this in the book. We'll talk about the addiction that almost killed him.

That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE LATE LATE SHOW," COURTESY CBS/WORLDWIDE PANTS)

FERGUSON: (INAUDIBLE).

I loved that.

Remind you of anyone?

Remind you of anyone?

Remind you of anyone?

Remind you of anyone?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

L. KING: That's your bit, remind you of anyone?

FERGUSON: We do it a lot, yes.

L. KING: Well, you came up with that. Pretty good.

By the way, what was it like to do the White House Correspondents Dinner?

FERGUSON: It was terrifying.

L. KING: You had just become a citizen, right?

FERGUSON: Yes, I had just become a citizen a couple of months before. And it was the last dinner of the Bush/Cheney administration. You were there. It was terrifying.

L. KING: I know. I was there.

FERGUSON: And you know that the -- the public address system that they have -- the speaker system was very, very bad. So you combine that with my -- with my accent and I think the first two or three words were like, "We have no idea what you're talking about."

L. KING: But you were terrific. Once you had to get through that first two or three minutes...

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: And then you don't have a mike, which doubles that.

FERGUSON: Yes. Yes. It was a -- it was a little -- it was a little freaky. I was a little scared.

L. KING: Your book is extraordinarily candid. You choose adventure over safety, you -- you're candid about alcoholism, screw- ups, failures, bed wetting until the age of 21.

FERGUSON: Well, bed wetting during an act of alcoholism, I mean, I'm fine now. It's not like I'm advocating -- you know, I'm -- I'm (INAUDIBLE).

L. KING: Well, you write about it.

FERGUSON: Yes.

L. KING: (INAUDIBLE).

FERGUSON: The first day of rehab, I -- I knocked off the bed wetting. I just want to make that clear. They were definitely associated, the bed wetting and the alcoholism.

L. KING: OK.

FERGUSON: Let's just say that. L. KING: Why did you lay it all out like that?

FERGUSON: Because it's the truth, you know. And because I don't believe that people need to promote themselves in that way all the time. You know, the argument I had with -- with the editor of the book -- a very, very clever mind -- early on, he was saying talk more about your achievements. And I'm like, well I don't -- A, I don't have that many; and, B, why?

That's -- it's just boasting. You know, any achievements, if I have any, people already know about them by the mere fact they're achievements.

Why not talk about what actually happened?

L. KING: Yes.

FERGUSON: And, also, I think anybody -- you know, I mean, I am an alcoholic and I was, you know, I was a blackout drunk for 15 years. I think anybody in the world who has a family or friends or -- I don't know anyone who hasn't at least known and liked someone who's been in that kind of trouble.

L. KING: Alcoholics are likable.

FERGUSON: Well, at points.

L. KING: Yes. (INAUDIBLE) all the time.

FERGUSON: Not when they're wetting your bed.

L. KING: No.

FERGUSON: No.

L. KING: Or when they get a little over the top.

FERGUSON: Yes, that's right. But you get them in that little half hour period just -- just after dessert and just before prison, that's when they're fun.

(LAUGHTER)

L. KING: As Jerry Lewis said, I feel sorry for people who don't drink because when they get up in the morning, that's the best they're going to feel all day.

FERGUSON: That's right. Yes. That...

L. KING: Is your 9-year-old son going to read this book?

FERGUSON: No, he's eight. I don't think it's -- I don't think he's that interested right now. "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" he likes. This one, I don't think he would be that interested.

L. KING: When did you start drinking? FERGUSON: I started drinking when I was very young.

L. KING: In Scotland?

FERGUSON: Yes, in Scotland. I was about 13 years old. And, you know, we -- there was a kind of a -- a culture of it at that time. I think things are a little different in Scotland now. But at that time, it was very -- you know, I wanted to appear grown up and that was the grown up thing to do. Grown-ups were -- you know, were drunks and you wanted to be drunk.

L. KING: Because it was Scotland, did you drink scotch?

FERGUSON: Oh, yes. Yes. Yes. I drank a lot of whiskey. Yes.

L. KING: And therefore, did you drink all through that period, right up to?

FERGUSON: No, it was off and on. By the time I was 18, I was drinking all the time. But, you know, it's very difficult to -- to, you know, go to school drunk, even -- even in Scotland in the 1970s. So -- so I didn't -- it was kind of intermittent. But it picked up. My drinking was always unusual. I mean even...

L. KING: Explain that.

FERGUSON: In the sense that I could never predict what was going to happen. If I had -- you know, if I had a scotch now, maybe nothing would happen and maybe I'd go nuts. I don't know. I mean it's a completely unpredictable thing with me.

That's why it's best to just stay away from it.

L. KING: How long are you sober?

FERGUSON: Seventeen-and-a-half, nearly 18 years.

L. KING: How did you stop?

FERGUSON: You know, you stop pouring it into your mouth, Larry. And -- and when you feel like -- it's the same way as I quit smoking.

You used to smoke?

L. KING: Sure did.

FERGUSON: I'll bet you did, right?

I mean everybody used to.

L. KING: A heart attack did it to me.

FERGUSON: Right. But the thing is that you notice that the desire to have a cigarette or the desire to have a drink will go away whether or not you have that drink or that cigarette.

L. KING: Correct.

FERGUSON: And that -- that really worked for me. You know, it was the idea of...

L. KING: Me, too.

FERGUSON: It was like I really want one and oh, I'm over it. And then you just keep going.

L. KING: But had you hit bottom depth?

FERGUSON: I -- I think I ...

L. KING: You were going to kill yourself, correct?

FERGUSON: I was, yes. Yes. I think, given the way I was at the time, it was -- you know, it seemed to me, because I was crazy. You know, I mean I wasn't in -- in control. I -- I don't know if I'm in control now. But -- but then, I -- it just seemed like the right thing to do. It's very difficult to explain. I was -- I was -- I was a little out of sorts.

L. KING: If you were going to kill yourself, someone offers you a drink, then you don't kill yourself.

FERGUSON: Well, I forgot. You know, I have this thing. They offered me a drink. I have a sherry. You know, and it was a big sherry. It was like a cup of sherry that size. I'm not talking about the vicar coming around to your house and having a little sherry. And this is a big glass of sherry. I had it and then I -- and then I started -- the guy who gives me the sherry, we start singing. We forget. You know, we move on. You forget. And then, you know, it's like...

L. KING: Yes.

Craig is an American by choice.

What's so great about adopting a new country?

We'll ask him, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE LATE LATE SHOW," COURTESY CBS/WORLDWIDE PANTS)

FERGUSON: And it's a great day for America, everybody, particularly for me. There is a new American in town.

How about that?

Yes, that's right, 300 million and one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

L. KING: Do you have dual citizenship now?

FERGUSON: No, well, I guess I do, technically. I don't know. I didn't think about it. I don't think of it as being dual. I'm an American citizen.

L. KING: What was it like to -- that day, that moment?

FERGUSON: It's very moving. It's very difficult for people like me to be -- you know, to deal with that kind of stuff.

L. KING: Did you go down to the courthouse?

FERGUSON: No, it was in Pomona fairgrounds with 3,000 new Mexican-American citizens and one new Scottish-American citizens. There were thousands of us. And they showed us a video and a lot of slow-motion stuff and the song, "I'm glad to be an American."

L. KING: That one hit guy.

FERGUSON: Yes, that guy with that song. He plays that song. And then the head of the immigration services -- I can't remember the name of the government department -- but he makes a speech, and everybody -- and then the pledge of allegiance.

L. KING: They swear you in, right?

FERGUSON: They swear you in, yes.

L. KING: That had to be a touching moment.

FERGUSON: It is a touching moment and I think that means I'm not a dual citizen because -- and I don't want to be, because I swore that I would fight any foreign potentate --

L. KING: So if Scotland goes to war with us?

FERGUSON: If Scotland and America go to war, I'm afraid I've already sworn in. But I think Scotland and America are on pretty good terms right now.

L. KING: The new Mexican-Americans, did they regard you as a little strange in your little discussions?

Usually they serve coffee and little cupcakes --

FERGUSON: I --

L. KING: -- because I spoke at one of those in Washington.

FERGUSON: This -- this one was not a swanky one like I'm sure the one you were at in Washington. This was like -- there weren't cups. There was guys that stand with -- you know, outside with stands and, you know, sodas and stuff like that. But there was no little cups of coffee.

I wanted to come in with everybody else. You know, I wanted to come in with, you know, the way everybody else was coming in. I didn't want to go to a reception. And plus, I wasn't invited to one in that (INAUDIBLE).

L. KING: Do you feel different now that you are an American, that we have accepted you?

We once fought you and your friends.

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: I don't know -- I don't know if you fought me and my friends.

L. KING: No, well, your predecessors.

FERGUSON: I think that -- I think up until a little bit -- you know, I don't feel that different, because I've felt like an American for a long time. I've lived here for 15 years. And, you know, my son is American, you know. He was born -- he was born in Beverly Hills. So, I mean it -- that's kind of embarrassing.

L. KING: That's American.

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: That's kind of American.

FERGUSON: Kind of American, not quite. I think it makes him kind of American and part French or something, you know what I mean?

It's like, oh, you're from Beverly Hills. But the -- but he -- my whole life is here. My family is here. My -- you know, I -- I've been here for so long that I thought my -- it was really -- by that time, it was taking the pledge and doing some paperwork. That's all it was.

L. KING: Did you feel -- did you like studying for it?

You have to study.

FERGUSON: Studying a little bit, yes. But they changed the exam.

L. KING: They did?

FERGUSON: Yes. I mean it was -- I got the last of the easy exam. The -- the exam is more difficult now. The test is more difficult. My test was, you know, do you like soda? Yes. Do you hate al Qaeda? Yes. OK, you're in, boy.

But -- but the --

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: Now it's like you've got to know a lot of stuff.

L. KING: When did you become a comedian -- a stand up comedian?

FERGUSON: I don't even remember.

L. KING: Was it still during your drinking age?

FERGUSON: Yes. Yes, well, I think many drunks are stand up comedians without even knowing that they're stand up comedians.

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: I -- I came out with a blackout and I had a talk show. I think what happened is that it -- it seems a natural choice. When I was a young man and I was crazy, show business is very forgiving of that kind of behavior, you know.

L. KING: Right.

FERGUSON: And it was a way to meet girls. So a way that, you know, you could be late, you could be drunk and you could meet girls. And it was like, you know, it was a big --

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: When did you know you were funny?

FERGUSON: I don't know now if I'm funny. I just keep talking and hope that I hit something that's funny. But I don't -- I don't, honestly, I don't know any comedian that's convinced -- any comedian who's any good that's convinced they are funny. They're just kind of like --

L. KING: Well, there's a tragedy about comics, too, right?

FERGUSON: Well, yes.

L. KING: I've got you, the old, you know --

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: Tears of a clown --

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: -- on humor.

FERGUSON: Yes. Yes, I wasn't bad. I think there's a little bit of -- of desperation or fear or some kind of weird thing that produces that -- that kind of --

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: -- making people laugh, right?

FERGUSON: It's fun. It's really a lot of fun. I -- I enjoy it. It -- it's -- people's faces look better when they're smiling.

L. KING: Yes.

FERGUSON: Look how lovely you look when you're smiling. I'm not saying you're heaviest when you're not smiling, but you're -- you're --

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: A lot of good things happen to people when they laugh.

FERGUSON: Yes, exactly.

L. KING: We'll be right back with Craig Ferguson, "The Late Late Show" host and the author of "An American on Purpose."

We'll get his thoughts on other things -- Britney, Jon, Kate and more.

Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

L. KING: Craig Ferguson, the book, "American on Purpose," a major best-seller.

A couple of years back, when a very troubled Britney Spears was all over the tabloids, you surprised your "Late Late Show" audience with this.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FERGUSON: For me, comedy should have a certain amount of joy in it. It should be about us attacking the powerful people, attacking the politicians, and the Trumps and the blow-hards of the world. Go after them. We shouldn't be attacking the vulnerable people.

This is totally a mea culpa. This is just for me. I think my aim has been off a bit recently. I want to change a bit. So tonight, no Britney Spears jokes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

L. KING: That was a good move, huh?

What do you make of that whole thing?

Do you really dislike doing those kind of things?

FERGUSON: Well, the -- the -- the particular incidents that that was -- the Britney Spears adventure, if you like, was the -- at that time, it seems -- it seems odd now, with perspective. We all look back on it and we realize she was -- you know, she was having some kind of crazy psychotic episode.

L. KING: Right. FERGUSON: But that was kind of at the beginning of it. And the way I think that -- the reason that I -- I was kind of drawn to it is that I had been celebrating 15 years sober that weekend. And -- and I -- and I had seen the reports of -- that she was going in a tattoo parlor and getting her head shaved. And it -- it crossed a lane for me. I started to think this -- this woman's ill, I think. I -- I think she's ill. I don't think she's -- I don't think this is -- this is past beyond celebrity funny.

This is -- there's something wrong with her, you know?

And -- and so I had begun -- in a way, it helped me because I started saying wait a minute, maybe I should apply this rationale a little more to my own stuff. I'm not advocating that anybody else do this. I wasn't then and I'm not now.

But for me, I -- I want to be comfortable with the kind of material I do. I don't want to be -- you know, you don't kick a man when he's down. That's not the way I was -- you know, I -- I wasn't -- I don't believe in that.

L. KING: You did drugs, too, right?

FERGUSON: Oh, sure, yes. Yes. But I'm an alcoholic, which means that in order to sell me drugs, you had to come to the bar. I wouldn't leave the bar. But that's the difference between an alcoholic and a drug addict. A drug addict can go out and buy drugs, you know --

L. KING: You didn't do that?

FERGUSON: No, I would -- I would call the dealer and say, you know, you've got to come to the bar because the bar's still open. That's --

L. KING: Isn't that a bad mix, though?

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: Oh, yes. Listen, I wasn't on a health kick during the 15 years of my alcoholism. I mean I -- yes. It's a terribly bad idea, mixing drugs with alcohol.

L. KING: How did rehab work?

FERGUSON: It worked really well. The -- what happened when I went into rehab is they -- they just -- they were very kind to me. What I really needed, I guess, was some information, apart from anything else. And -- and the people that -- the counselors in the treatment center that I went to, they were very -- really strict. There was no -- it wasn't kind of like -- you weren't allowed to bring in your personal assistant or your, you know, your publicist or your barista or anything like that. It was like you went in, this is -- you know, you clean the toilets then. You go to a therapy session. You know, you go outside and you -- I mean it was -- it was quite structured and -- and they just dealt with the fact that -- I mean, it was like two or three or four days in I think, and one of the counselors said to me, how are you doing?

And I said, actually, I'm doing great.

And he said -- I remember he said to me, he said, really? You're in a treatment center for chronic alcohol and cocaine addiction, and you don't have any money to pay for it, and we are taking you on credit. This is great to you? This is you doing great?

And I thought, I think they're helping me with my sense of perspective. And -- and that's what it gave me. I think -- I think what rehab did for me is it began that journey for me, which is a journey to try and get a sense of perspective about myself and where I -- where I exist in the world --

L. KING: When you -- you look back at all this and the kind of life you've led, do you ever pinch yourself, here I am on --

FERGUSON: On Larry King?

L. KING: No, no.

FERGUSON: Yes. Yes. Oh, oh --

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: I'm the host of a major nighttime show.

FERGUSON: I'm -- I'm well known. I've got a best-selling book.

FERGUSON: Yes.

L. KING: And I was falling down in my own --

FERGUSON: Yes.

L. KING: -- my own business?

FERGUSON: Yes. Yes. I think -- but I think that there's a couple of things you can take from that. One is that, clearly, you know, alcohol and drugs are very bad for you, both career and physically and -- or for me, anyway.

You know what, I'm going to qualify that, though, because a lot of people can drink alcohol and it's not a problem for them.

L. KING: Yes.

FERGUSON: And I don't -- I don't want to advocate temperance for people that don't need it. That's not my -- my game. I'm not -- I'm not thumping the table for, you know, temperance here. All I'm saying is for me and for people like me, it's -- it's terrible. It's -- it's like a massive -- it's like if you had an allergy to peanuts, but you couldn't help eating them. It wouldn't go well for you.

L. KING: We'll be back in 60 seconds with the terrific comedian and talk show host, author, Craig Ferguson.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

L. KING: We're back with Craig Ferguson, one of my favorite people.

Both of his parents, Bob and Netta, died after he became host of "The Late Late Show." And you memorialized them both on your program.

Watch a little of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FERGUSON: My mother, Janet Ferguson, passed away on the first of December. I have just come back from the funeral services in Scotland. I have to do a show now. To be honest, I don't really -- I want to run a million miles from talking to you about this. I want to do jokes about the Jonas Brothers and OJ. But I can't.

When I was watching television with him, I used to sit in front of him. He would sit behind me. He'd put his hand on my head. And I love that. And he did it last week in the hospital, probably the first time in 35 years or something. From his bed, he put his hand on my head. It was amazing. It was great.

He was a man of few words, my dad. I get the talking from my mother's side of my family. But I was never in any doubt that he loved me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

L. KING: Hard to do?

FERGUSON: Yes. Harder to watch. I've never watched that.

L. KING: No?

FERGUSON: No. I -- I came back the -- from -- when my mother -- my mother died about three years after my father. My father died in January of 2006. And I -- I did the show -- I phoned my mother at home and I said, I don't -- I don't -- because I had just said good- bye to him and I came back. It was one of those -- you know, I was coming back to work. We didn't know how long he was going to last. We knew he was dying. He knew he was dying.

But when he died, I -- I called my mother and I said, well, I'll come home now, because the funeral was a few days later. And she said, oh, no, do what your -- do what your father would have done. You know, do your job then go.

And so that's -- that's what I did. I went on that night and did the show. And I -- and I haven't watched it. Nor do I care to, because I watched the bit there and I'm like, oh.

You see the danger about -- I think particularly if you try and make people laugh for a living is that you're not allowed any other emotion. You know, you're meant to be upbeat -- well, ring, yinkity dink the whole time. And I -- that's -- that's not human. I'm not interested in that.

L. KING: Do you watch last night TV? That's tonight's Quick Vote.

Go to CNN.com/LarryKing and cast your ballot.

Craig rates the competition, Kimmel and Conan, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FERGUSON: You've got quite a lot of kids, Larry.

L. KING: I've got there grown and two -- and one adopted. I got one adopted, two natural -- four natural, one adopted and a step- child. And, as (INAUDIBLE) would say, that one in Honolulu. I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

L. KING: That was a great time. I had a great time.

FERGUSON: You were funny.

L. KING: You know, I was wearing the shirt that you're wearing now.

FERGUSON: Yes, I know --

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: You left the shirt behind and I took advantage.

L. KING: Let's take some quick things in the news.

Jon and Kate Gosselin.

Why are they in the news?

What do you make of that?

FERGUSON: I don't -- I don't know and I care less. I --

L. KING: Have you --

FERGUSON: I don't follow that thing. I know that he's the kind of tubby one that's, you know -- (CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: And she's the one with the funny haircut. That's all I got, you know.

L. KING: What do you make of the whole Michael Jackson thing?

He's still dead, by the way.

FERGUSON: Yes, I -- well, in what way do I make of the Michael Jackson thing?

L. KING: The whole furor.

FERGUSON: I -- oh, boy, isn't that something?

(LAUGHTER)

L. KING: Good line.

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: Another big thing in our lives, what do you make of Rush Limbaugh trying to buy the Rams?

FERGUSON: I -- does he have enough money to buy the Rams?

L. KING: Yes, I think he would. He's got a partner or two.

FERGUSON: Yes, yes. Well --

L. KING: And a group. There is a group.

FERGUSON: Hey, it's America. If he can afford the Rams and they want it, why not, yes?

L. KING: But what about players that -- players in the league are upset. Black players think he's a bigoted.

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: The team owners have to vote.

FERGUSON: Is -- is he?

L. KING: I don't know. I've only met him once or twice. If he's --

FERGUSON: I never met him at all.

L. KING: I don't listen to him.

FERGUSON: I don't like his taste in shirts, I'll tell you that. He wears them tight little nylon shirts.

L. KING: Remember when -- FERGUSON: He does not --

L. KING: Remember when he was jumping around --

FERGUSON: -- have to wear that --

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: The one where he was jumping around?

FERGUSON: Yes, yes. Well, he's doing all that. He's -- he should wear something a little more loose-fitting.

L. KING: It's the only speech ever made while taking a jump shot. I never saw it. Anyway --

(LAUGHTER)

L. KING: Here's a look -- another look at Craig as me. Now, get -- we've got to set this up. He's playing me interviewing Craig, right?

FERGUSON: That's right, yes.

L. KING: With another guy playing you?

FERGUSON: Yes, well, I figured if I'm going after you, I might as well go after myself.

L. KING: All right. Watch.

FERGUSON: All right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FERGUSON: Ahhh. My first guest tonight is Craig Ferguson. He's a great actor and a brilliant talk show host. All of America loves him. Who wouldn't? He's gorgeous. Welcome Craig.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Top of the morning to you, Larry.

FERGUSON: I have to say, you seem a little different in person. You don't seem very Scottish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course I am. What is it, you after me pot of gold?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

L. KING: Now that --

FERGUSON: Yes.

L. KING: -- was --

FERGUSON: That's Jordan Reynolds (ph) -- L. KING: Who was that?

FERGUSON: Jordan Reynolds, he's a writer on the show who -- who plays me. He -- he's very tough. He's very tough on me.

L. KING: Now you knew -- there's certain things you don't know, but you knew that was funny going in, right?

FERGUSON: I knew that --

L. KING: Now you knew that was --

FERGUSON: Well, you make each other laugh when you're rehearsing a little bit. So you kind of know. I mean I got the giggles when I was doing it, you know?

So it -- you -- you figure it's got to be at least funny to me, you know.

(LAUGHTER)

L. KING: What do you think of your -- I guess, rivals?

Do you like Jimmy Kimmel?

FERGUSON: He's a nice guy. I don't -- I mean I don't watch my own shows, so I'm damn sure not going to watch the other guys that are on at the same time. I've met Jimmy a lot of times. And he seems -- he's a very nice guy.

L. KING: He's a great guy.

FERGUSON: He's very nice.

L. KING: Conan?

FERGUSON: The same thing.

L. KING: Did you -- you must have watched him --

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: -- when he did "The Tonight Show."

FERGUSON: I watched -- I -- I didn't watch the first one. I watched a few in. And I watched for about 10 minutes. I don't really watch late night television. It's dangerous for me to watch it because then I might start doing stuff that they do, you know, or -- or not doing stuff that I do because it's similar to other things.

So I don't -- I really don't watch it. I -- I try to stay away from it.

L. KING: You don't watch even your own boss?

FERGUSON: Dave? L. KING: Dave.

No?

FERGUSON: Well, yes, of course I do, you know --

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: -- for career reasons.

L. KING: You never do?

FERGUSON: No, I don't watch it. I don't -- I don't watch late night television.

L. KING: OK, let's go --

FERGUSON: I've been doing OK.

L. KING: Let's go back a little.

FERGUSON: Yes?

L. KING: Leno at 10?

FERGUSON: Leno at 10 I've seen.

L. KING: And?

FERGUSON: It's fine.

(LAUGHTER)

L. KING: We'll leave it at that.

FERGUSON: Yes, OK.

L. KING: How do you react -- you've gotten great ratings, huh?

FERGUSON: Yes, not bad. Not bad right now. But it's good -- the -- the danger of getting good ratings is that when Jay was getting the best ratings ever in late night, they -- they got rid of him.

L. KING: Yes.

FERGUSON: So -- so you've got to be careful getting good ratings. You don't want too good or too bad. Somewhere in the middle -- mediocre, that's what I'm aiming for.

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: But they've got to keep you.

FERGUSON: Yes, it's like there's something -- you don't want to stand out --

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: -- and you don't want to fall behind. You stay in the middle of the hair.

L. KING: We'll wind up with Craig and his kilt. What you need to know about his wardrobe, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

L. KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Craig Ferguson. We can't wait to have him back. And he's going to host this show some time.

FERGUSON: Sure. I'd love to.

L. KING: Big treat for us.

FERGUSON: Oh.

L. KING: All right, the kilts.

FERGUSON: Yes?

L. KING: What is with the kilts?

FERGUSON: It's a traditional dress.

L. KING: Do you ever wear them in America?

FERGUSON: I don't wear it that often these days, but I would, you know?

And I wore one when I got married.

L. KING: You did?

FERGUSON: Yes, yes, yes. I do -- you know, I wear them occasionally. That one there, I wore that at the Country Music Awards.

L. KING: Were you a presenter?

FERGUSON: Yes, I was. Yes. Yes. And I was standing -- I never realized how close the front row was to the -- to the spot.

L. KING: And they looked up?

FERGUSON: Reba McEntire loves me.

(LAUGHTER)

L. KING: But what's the origin of kilts?

FERGUSON: I don't know. I think it was very difficult to make pants in the olden days, and so they just used to wrap a little plaid around them. That's the way I think. I think that was probably it. You know, pants -- we don't have time for pants, we have to fight the English. Quick, let's just put some plaid around our business and off we go.

L. KING: Do wear in the traditional -- you wear traditional kilts when you have --

FERGUSON: You mean if I -- you know, do you mean what's under them?

L. KING: What's under them?

FERGUSON: On a kilt?

On a good day?

Lipstick.

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: What?

What?

On a good day is what I'm saying.

L. KING: On a damn good day.

FERGUSON: Well, yes. Don't get mad.

(LAUGHTER)

L. KING: Well, you know we can't top that.

FERGUSON: No, I don't think you can.

L. KING: But we still have a few minutes left.

FERGUSON: Yes, well, well, how about that Jon and Kate?

L. KING: How about them?

(LAUGHTER)

L. KING: What do you make of Michael Jackson? Holy moley.

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: Hey, hey, what about that Octomom.

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: What about that Rush Limbaugh?

Hey --

FERGUSON: What? L. KING: Now that you're a hit author --

FERGUSON: Oh, yes.

L. KING: -- are you going to write book two?

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: You wrote a novel.

FERGUSON: I wrote novel. I wrote that one. And I will take a break before I do another one. You don't want to -- you don't want to go rushing into these things.

L. KING: Are you basically a writer?

FERGUSON: I don't know what I am. I think I'm what they used to call in Glasgow a chancer (ph). I think I'm just someone that just tries to get by. I'm kind of -- if it was during the Second World War, I'd be a black marketeer, I think.

Do you know what I mean?

I'm kind of like hey, hey, where -- one of those.

L. KING: A Scottisher, is that the term for --

FERGUSON: Scottisher.

L. KING: Well, someone that's --

FERGUSON: Yes.

L. KING: Do they feel like second city to Great Britain?

FERGUSON: No, they don't. No. No.

L. KING: They're definitely not under any kind of guilt or --

FERGUSON: Guilt?

L. KING: -- inferiority complex.

FERGUSON: No, I don't think they have an inferiority complex. I'll refer you back to what's under the kilt. But I think the -- I think what there is is there's a -- there's a very strong national identity and a great deal of pride in Scotland. They're a bit like tough Canadians.

L. KING: Because we know, as Americans -- now that you're an American --

FERGUSON: Yes --

L. KING: We don't know a lot about Scotland. We know much more about Ireland. FERGUSON: They are similar.

(CROSSTALK)

L. KING: -- Irish immigrants.

FERGUSON: Well, my family are Scott and Irish, as well. My -- my father's mother was Irish. So in many -- in many regards, my family -- and a lot of people in Glasgow is -- are -- have Irish origins, as well. The Irish that couldn't afford to get to America would make the trip to Scotland.

L. KING: The legend of being tight with money, true or not?

FERGUSON: I'm careful with money.

L. KING: Are Scottish people generally careful?

FERGUSON: I think Scottish people are generally generous. I think they work against the stereotype. But most -- most people that have stereotype labeling -- no, wait a minute. I was going to say most Irish people don't drink. And I was like that's just a flat out lie.

L. KING: Well, it was --

FERGUSON: You know --

L. KING: It was supposedly the Bank of Scotland that brought Madoff down, when they asked for all their money.

FERGUSON: And they said you can't have it and that was --

L. KING: Yes, good-bye Bernie.

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: Well, in that case, hats off to them, I say. Somebody had to do it.

L. KING: Thank you.

Good luck with the lipstick.

FERGUSON: Thanks.

Thanks a lot.

If it's there, I've --

L. KING: We'll never top that one.

Craig Ferguson, "American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot."

Anderson Cooper has to follow this. "AC 360" starts right now.