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Tiger Woods Accident in Florida; White House Party Crashers; Jesse Ventura On Conspiracy Theories And Afghanistan

Aired November 30, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: Tonight, is Tiger Woods in hiding? He snubbed investigators looking into his mysterious car crash and now he's a no show at his own tourney. What's going on with the world's most famous golfer?

And then, the White House party crashers, publicity seekers or high- level security risk? The couple's friends are here to tell us why the Salagus thought they were invited.

Plus Jesse Ventura, he has got a plan to end the war in Afghanistan. What is it?

Next on LARRY KING LIVE. Good evening. Golf superstar Tiger Woods still is not taking questions about the SUV crash he was in early last Friday near his home in Florida. Now he's not going to be taking part in his own golf tournament. He cited injuries he sustained in that mysterious one-car smashup as a reason for the decision. Last week a story in the "National Enquirer" alleged that Woods and a New York nightclub hostess had been having some sort of an arrangement in Australia.

The woman arrived in Los Angeles Sunday and met with her attorney Gloria Allred and has denied ever having an affair with Woods when contacted by the Associated Press. And for the record Woods says there are many false, unfounded and malicious rumors are currently circulating about my family and me and that they are irresponsible.

To discuss this, here in Los Angeles, Mark Geragos, the famed defense attorney. In New York, is Howard Bragman, the celebrity publicist and crisis communications expert. What's your overall read on this story, Mark?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think you've got a situation where, number one, there is some criminal exposure, which is obviously why the police want to talk to them.

KING: Exposure for whom?

GERAGOS: I think actually for both. You've got a situation where the police are investigating number one whether they believe domestic violence took place. So that would target Tiger's wife and then number two, you have the parallel investigation, was he driving under the influence. So when you hear reports today by the sheriff saying or the police department saying that they want to get a search warrant for the blood records or for the injuries, well, that is two-fold. They may want to see what the injuries look like to see if they're consistent with a traffic accident or they might want to get the blood to see if there is any alcohol or any other --

KING: Howard he's not an elected official, he is not a minister taking people's money. Does he owe speaking at all?

HOWARD BRAGMAN, CELEBRITY PUBLICIST: You know, he has every right to say, no thank you. I don't wish to talk. I'm a private citizen. And unless and until I'm charged and have to speak in court, I'm going to shut up. But he also has to understand he's a bazillion dollar brand. He's worth hundreds of millions of dollars in sponsorships and endorsements. His brand is for the very first time in its history has a chance to be tarnished. You have to balance what Mark was talking about the potential criminal charges and the fact that you want to save your brand.

I think there's a happy medium, Larry. That's what he's not doing. Right now his silence has become the story. And very easily, he could call you and say my wife and I had an argument, I went out in anger, I drove the car in a fire hydrant, and I'm an idiot. And it would really let some of the air out of the balloon. The media is really angry now that he won't speak to them.

KING: In swinging the club at the car to get him out, when that car's engines -- I have one of those cars. My wife drives it but I have it.

GERAGOS: Have you ever taken a golf club to it?

KING: No. She hasn't taken one to me either.


KING: Anyway. When the engine is on in that car, you can't open the door from the outside.

GERAGOS: Which is a perfect explanation for what transpired. At the same time and I agree with Howard here, part of the problem is you have somebody who does has a billion dollar brand, a billion dollars in earnings. He's jealously guarded his privacy. It's understandable. He's now in the middle of not only a criminal investigation of some kind because anytime the cops are involved --

KING: It's not a major criminal act.

GERAGOS: It is not a major criminal act when you're talking low-grade misdemeanors. But at the same time you're also talking about the media tabloid frenzy. That is something that most people never experience, especially, I think, Tiger in his history because he's got this wonderful image. That becomes foreign to most people, how to deal with that. You have to counterbalance from his standpoint, my endorsements, and my image. Do I say something? You've got the criminal lawyer I'm sure who's advising him one thing and ultimately, I think both he and his wife will have to have lawyers.

KING: But Howard he doesn't have to but should he come forward, sit down with me, somebody for an hour, discuss what happened? Be honest. Because then you can put it away. No matter what the story is, it can't be terrible enough to prevent him being a golfer. It's not going to take away his livelihood. Why not just sit and tell the story and be done with it?

BRAGMAN: Well, I think you have to work backwards and you have to say what is his goal here? One of his goals may be avoiding criminal charges for either himself or his wife. Another goal may be making the story go away. And you have to balance those things. It's not black and white. But I wouldn't say sit down for an hour. What I would say is if Tiger Woods' people called you, right now and said Larry, Tiger wants to come on for ten minutes and phone call from Florida, you'd take that phone call.

And just -- he has to give the truth. He doesn't have the to give the whole truth at this point if that makes sense. He certainly shouldn't lie because that will come back and bite you, as we all know. He certainly has to start to come out of -- this rose garden strategy is not coming out so well. He is going to be on the cover of the weekly news magazines, the tabloids are defining this story. That's about as bad as it can be in the image world, is to let the "National Enquirer" decide what your story is going to be and playing defense, the most aggressive golfer in history is playing defense.

KING: What if the "Enquirer" story is flat out wrong? What if this woman is saying hey I happen to be in Australia but I never saw him and nothing happened.

GERAGOS: What if the "Enquirer" story is flat out wrong you've got -- you've got a lawsuit there on her behalf. You've got from his standpoint, the same kind of issues. I don't think that that's what is his main concern at this point. I think his main concern is obviously his family. And protecting them and understandably, that should be.

Secondarily, what is arguably a minor criminal investigation and then third is protecting the image. The problem is, you've got somebody who's surrounded by all kinds of advisers. I guarantee you, having been through this a number of times; you're getting a lot of competing advice. Somebody has to be the captain of the ship and somebody has got to say no this is what we are going do; I have your best interest.

KING: Do you need someone like a Howard Rubenstein at this point?

GERAGOS: You need somebody who's going to take charge and run the ship. You can have --

KING: You have to listen to them?

GERAGOS: You have to listen to that person.

KING: I am going to ask Howard when we come back, what is the effect of all of this on the future of Tiger Woods? Will it be forever tenanted? First these words.


KING: Howard Bragman is this chapter in this once perfect image, is this in the -- is this in the first paragraph of the obituary?

BRAGMAN: No way. Unless there's a lot of information we don't know, spousal abuse, the affair becomes acknowledged, it's not, and this is a speed bump. He totaled the car but his career is intact. Right now he's denying the affair and the woman he allegedly had the affair with is denying it. Neither party is claiming spousal abuse. This is just -- really it's a standoff between the media and Tiger Woods.

It's very interesting when you think of that that way that he's saying it's none of your business and I'm not going to talk. They're saying we want to know and we have a right to know. You have to really analyze this and say at what point is it hurting the brand? I think his sponsors want to know. I think two or three weeks from now this will be gone and we won't care.

KING: OK. But it will be on Leno and Letterman and all the rest tonight, won't it?

GERAGOS: I agree wholeheartedly with Howard, with everything except the sponsors want to know. The sponsors don't want to know. The sponsors want to fast forward. The sponsor wants somebody caught with their pants down doing something else so this gets off the front page. And Howard is right again on this the problem with this right now is that it's being defined by the tabloids, "TMZ" and "National Enquirer," as opposed to them at least trying to mold this or guide it in a direction and move it off the page.

KING: Legally if this were Tom Smith in Orlando, Florida, would the police be pressuring the wife and him?

GERAGOS: Actually if this was Tom Smith and this happens here in California all the time, I don't want to speak to that particular jurisdiction but I've got many cases that come through the door where they would have gone to the hospital. They would have snagged the blood and they would have tested the blood immediately.

KING: They would have?


KING: They would have investigated this?

GERAGOS: They absolutely would have investigated this.

KING: What if Tom Smith said I won't talk to you?

GERAGOS: Then they would have taken the blood anyway; at the very least they would have taken the blood. That to me is not something that's unusual. Because they have an auto accident, they have somebody who is lying there, who appears to be coming in and out consciousness and presumably they have a hospital that drew blood.

KING: Can they subpoena and warrant, subpoena the hospital records?

GERAGOS: They can get it by way of a search warrant. Absolutely. They have enough right now.

KING: What Howard if they get that, all if, speculation is what we do, if they -- what if it showed that there was no blood in the car and that the blood could not be -- the accident could not have been caused by the car -- the injuries?

BRAGMAN: Then there's a lot more questions than answers which there have been all along in this case, Larry. We're all interested, what's the toxicology report? What are the injuries? Are they consistent with a car accident? I mean there's a lot of intriguing questions that really are happening here. And I think that's why the media is so interested and remains so interested in this thing. And I can tell you, I've worked with a lot of celebrities who have been in crisis in situations like this.

And even though they have the right and the power and the money not to say anything, there comes a point when the truth is going to get out, even when an incident involves two people like this. It's amazing, some neighbor has video, and the 911 call is out there. For some reason we live in a society that's shockingly transparent. The truth is going to come out. You want to get ahead of that story. That's his cardinal pr mistake right now.

That's exactly right. Because you are going to have some advisers going to talk, somebody is going to say something and at some point there's going to be a story out there. That's why you have to do something as opposed to do nothing. He doesn't have the to come out and talk. The thing that people keep talking about, he has to make a statement or he has got to go talk to the police. Look you still have a Fifth Amendment right in this country. I would never say that's something you have to do. But there are ways you can define this story.

KING: Without him saying anything?

BRAGMAN: Without him saying a word or have him crafted by virtue of Website video or something else.

KING: You're both saying this is not going to be a long-range story?

GERAGOS: If handled properly, this thing will move off in 72 to 96 hours if it's handled properly, absence some kind of a criminal filing. If somebody files a criminal case, that spins it into a bigger story.

KING: Thank you, Mark. Thank you, Howard.

The car at home is still in one piece and will stay that way.

The White House party crashers. Their friends are here to tell us that they didn't crash anything, in 60 seconds.


KING: Tareq and Michaele Salahis created a storm of controversy when they showed up apparently uninvited at the White House state dinner last week. Joining us now are friends of the couple, Casey Margenau, he and his wife were at Salahis lavish wedding in 2002. Teresa Foss- Conlan, she and Mrs. Salahis work together in the past and Matthew Christian Davis, author of the "Best of D.C." which by the way featured both of the Salahis. They were booked to be our guests tonight on this program. They postponed their appearance and they say they are anxious to tell their story. We hope to interview them as soon as they are able to do so. Today's White House briefing brought a barrage of questions about the crashing of the state dinner. Here is some of what press secretary Robert Gibbs had to say.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The individuals that are listed weren't on any list. I think the Secret Service, through the director, has admitted that somebody who wasn't on a list and wasn't waved in was allowed into an event that clearly he said shouldn't be.

(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): So are you saying that the social office does not have any responsibility in this at all?

GIBBS: April, there's an investigation, it's ongoing into the actions of what happened. I'll wait for that to be completed.


KING: Casey, you were at their wedding. Have you spoken with them since all of this erupted?

CASEY MARGENAU, LONGTIME FRIEND OF SALAHIS: Yes, I have. I talked to them on Thursday evening. I've also had some e-mail correspondence with them. And actually talked to them in your green room.

KING: Where they were supposed to be on this show tonight.


KING: I understand they're still going to come when some of this settles down. How are they doing?

MARGENAU: Well, they've been troubled. They are not doing that great. Michaele was run down by somebody trying to take a picture of her, photograph of her and ran her car off the road. They are obviously not taking this press as well as it should be. But they have been told that -- not to speak at this point in time. But they did send me an e- mail and said they are going to come on your show.

KING: Teresa, why did they go to this event if they weren't invited as you know them?

TERESA FOSS-CONLAN, FRIEND OF SALAHIS: As far as I know Larry they were invited. And a friend of mine and I were with her the day of the state dinner where she was preparing to get ready, getting her hair and make-up done. She had her dress custom made for this event and her and Tareq were extremely excited and felt very honored to be invited to this event. I never in a million years would have imagined them crashing the White House state dinner. As far as I know and as far as the conversations that I had with both of them, that they were invited.

KING: Matthew, what's your read on this? You featured both of them in your book.

MATTHEW CHRISTIAN DAVIS, FRIEND OF SALAHIS: In three different areas. I did so proudly; best of D.C. it is not just a book of best of District Columbia. What we're looking at is the defining change in America's leadership. We have Tareq and we have Michaele separated in three different areas of interest. One was D.C. for designers and contour which they are rocking the runway fashion show. We have D.C. for divas in charge in which Michaele is featured there on the green. And I'm proud and privileged and pleased that she was featured with me at my book launch at the National Press Club where she emceed along with three other Miss D.C.s.

KING: Do you believe they were invited or thought they were invited?

DAVIS: This is not a nightclub at a private party at a luxury country ranch. What we're talking about is the White House. You don't just get waved in without the proper clearance. I come from three generations of law enforcement, proudly served my country with the U.S. Army, the Southern European Task Force in Italy and have been in such places as Rwanda during the genocide in 1994. I'm a strong believer that our nation has a front line, a first line of defense that will protect our leader, our commander in chief by all means necessary.

KING: Are you saying they were invited? What are you saying?

DAVIS: I have to believe they are. I find it difficult to believe --

KING: OK. Let me get a break and come right back. Should the Salahis face charges? For what? Tell us what you think at Click on blog, start typing. More with our friends after this.


KING: The House Homeland Security Committee set to hold a hearing on the White House breach on Thursday. The Salahis and the director of the Secret Service have been called to testify. Early today on NBC, Congressman Peter King the ranking member of the panel had this to say about what should happen to Tareq and Michaele.


(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Should this couple be charged with a crime?

REP. PETER KING, (R) HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Yes, this is serious. People think it's a joke. It's not. We have the security of the president of the United States and the leaders of the free world. You have the prime minister of India whose country was attacked in Mumbai last year. We can't show this type of weakness to terrorists or to psychopaths, especially against President Obama, who is probably the most threatened president in our history.


KING: Do you think Tareq and Michaele should be charged, Casey?

MARGENAU: I think that I can't find anything they've done wrong. I do believe that they had an invitation or at least thought they did. From what my conversations have been with them, I did talk to them, like I said, on Thanksgiving evening. And I was told at that point in time that they had correspondence that led them to believe they were invited.

I had a friend of mine who's also a very close friend of theirs as well confirm that with me as well. So I have no reason to believe that they didn't have any other understanding other than they were invited and they were supposed to be there. So I do feel that if there's a reason they were not supposed to be there, then is it really their fault and can they really be prosecuted for that?

KING: Teresa, for a State Department dinner, for a state official dinner, you do get a formal invitation. It's beautifully elaborate in a large envelope with a handwritten printing of your names. Did she ever tell you she had that?

FOSS-CONLAN: Larry, as far as I know, she did say that she was officially invited to the state dinner; however, I never did see the invitation. But I know that she had correspondence with the White House social secretary about the proper attire that she should wear as she was trying to decide about the dress and the color and if this was the proper attire to wear. I know there was correspondence with people that definitely knew she was attending and had her on some type of list. And I spoke to her and she said that they went through the proper security. They showed their passports and Ids and there was never a doubt they weren't suppose to be there.

KING: I was just imaging, Matthew, if Shawn and I went to a state dinner and we didn't have an invitation but I went, what do you think they would do?

DAVIS: You're Larry King.

KING: And if my wife didn't see the invitation she'd club me over the head.

DAVIS: That's right.

KING: They would probably let us in maybe or what?

DAVIS: To a state dinner, Mr. King, I do not want to make any comments in terms of seeing that you're not being considered welcome to a party. I mean, I can imagine you have yourself a blanket open invitation wherever you come.

KING: But the Salahis are well known, too, aren't they well known people around Washington?

DAVIS: They are D.C.'s dynamic couple, another acronym for them in the book. However, in this particular case, D.C. also represents diligence and courts. I feel that they are innocent until proven guilty. This is something --

KING: I want to know guilty of what? DAVIS: That's exactly it. What are the charges they'll be brought up on? What are the circumstances that are going to be looked into? I'm not the subject matter.

KING: Good point. Let me get a break.

DAVIS: Yes, sir.

KING: The Salahis have quite a photo album of themselves with celebrities. How do they gain access to events with other famous people? We'll talk about that next.


KING: Tomorrow, we'll be on 9:00 Pacific, midnight Eastern, following the Obama address on Afghanistan. Judge Jeannine Pirro had harsh words for the Salahis and the Secret Service. You can read her blog at If you agree or don't agree, we want to hear about it. And I can't even pronounce my own name.

Tareq Salahi has been in a bitter feud with his family over the family business, a winery in Virginia. It's parents against son. And the other brother, Ismail, agrees with the parents. Here's what he said earlier today.


ISMAIL SALAHI, TAREQ SALAHI'S BROTHER: I was just as surprised as everybody else was. This is something that I don't think has ever been done before. I can't say I'm proud that he's done this. I was just as surprised as the rest of the nation was. I was shocked by it.

But I don't definitely put it past him and his wife to do something like this. I think an investigation is going to be done by both the White House and Secret Service. That's my understanding. So I think they should definitely be treated like anybody else, celebrity status or not.


KING: Casey, every dinner -- every seat at the White House is accounted for at a state dinner. Do you know if they were able to sit down and dine?

MARGENAU: My understanding is, no, they were not. And I did have a little bit of a different opinion of how their invitation was, just from talking to them. I understood that they were only invited to the reception. And I'm not sure why I felt that way, but from my conversation with them, Thursday night, my understanding was they were only invited to the reception, and that they were not staying for the dinner. I'm not even sure if that --

KING: Isn't that a slight, come but don't stay?

MORGENAU: I've seen that at a lot of parties in Washington, where there's an "a" list and a "b" list. And you know, getting on either one at the White House is probably pretty good. So it did not raise a red flag to me when they said that. And at this point in time, I don't have any reason to doubt them. I don't have any reason to think they were telling me something untrue.

KING: Teresa, do you back that up, that they were invited to the reception?

FOSS-CONLAN: As far as I know, they were invited to the reception, yes. As for dinner, I'm not sure if they stayed or not. We were speaking of that on the break, actually. We kind of had heard different stories on how this whole story broke. I thought that because she posted the pictures on Facebook that this whole thing started unraveling. But for them to be invited to the reception or the dinner is not uncommon. They are very socially connected in the D.C. area. They attend many social events where, you know, it wouldn't be uncommon for them to be invited to something like this. They're not the type of people to, quote, unquote, crash a party, let alone crash a White House state dinner. She's beside herself right now.

KING: I would imagine. I look forward to talking to them. We don't have an agenda on this program. I would like to learn what this was all about. Matthew, are you concerned that -- they're kind of innocent. Are you concerned of the security breach?

DAVIS: I'm starting to think there needs to be an internal investigation, if it's going to be looked into further. We need to identify the problem and look at what's really, really important. That is, of course, the security of our commander in chief, our president.

KING: well said. Thank you all very much. We'll be doing a lot more on this. We look forward to meeting the couple themselves.

You could bet Jesse Ventura's got something to say about party crashers. See what he thinks, next.


KING: the former governor of Minnesota, former pro wrestler, former Navy SEAL, the host of "Conspiracy Theory," which will debut Wednesday night on Tru-TV, about which we'll ask in a few minutes. What do you make of the gate crashers story?

JESSE VENTURA, FMR. GOVERNOR OF MINNESOTA: Well, Larry, the concern I have was not over who did it, but how they were allowed to be let in. So much for the Patriot Act and national security, huh? I mean, if you can crash the White House --

KING: Your anger is --

VENTURA: If you can crash the White House like they did, obviously the Patriot Act and national security isn't working too well. That's the president of the United States.

On a serious note, Larry, I think the Secret Service has something to answer to here. Ultimately, it's their responsibility.

KING: And what are your thoughts on the Tiger Woods situation?

VENTURA: Well, for me, I hope Tiger keeps quiet. I hope that Tiger does what he's doing right now, because it truly is nobody's business. It was an internal thing, whatever it is, inside his house, on his property. He was never driving on a public street. I would do the identical same thing, if I were in his shoes. I would say nothing. It will blow over in a week or two. And we'll all be fine when it's all over. Let Tiger have his privacy.

KING: Now of a more important nature. President Obama will lay out his plans for Afghanistan, major address, West Point, tomorrow night. CNN will follow it with live coverage. We'll be pushed back to being on at midnight, 9:00 Pacific because of that, but we'll be here. What are your thoughts on the possibility, apparently, that he's going to send 30,000 more troops, with an exit date?

VENTURA: Well, it still angers me, because it reminds me a great deal of Vietnam. The Russians couldn't beat they will. The English couldn't beat them over there. You are not going to get a military solution, in my opinion, in Afghanistan. It's impossible.

Yet we're just like Vietnam. Are we propping up a phony government like we did in Vietnam? Remember, the United States blocked free elections in Vietnam? Had there had been elections in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh would have won in a land slide.

Well, is this the same thing going on? We're propping up an unpopular government. We're sending our military in.

I tell you what should happen, Larry. We need an immediate Congress to pass a war tax, because you know what? We're involved in two wars now and this country is feeling no pain. Well, I got news for you. When you're involved in war, everyone should feel a little bit of pain. We need to pass a war tax to pay for this war.

And I'll tell you something else. It's time to bring back the draft. These guys are on their fifth or sixth tours over there. I used to be advocate for a professional military. I'm not anymore. It's too easy for these people to take our young men and women to war and not account for it.

And let's pass one more law, Larry. The next time the government votes to go to war, I think every congressman and senator should be required to pr predesignate someone in their family begins immediate military service. I'm tired for these people voting to go to war and then they have no dog in the fight.

KING: Governor, would you leave -- if it was your decision, what would you do?

VENTURA: I would pull out of Afghanistan. I would pull out of Iraq. And I would bring our boys home. It's our job to protect their safety and not be sending them off to wars. What are we accomplishing there? I look at it from a personal viewpoint, Larry. I don't understand how these two wars have helped Jesse Ventura or the United States of America one bit, other than to drain our economy.

KING: We'll take a break. When we come back, we'll talk about Jesse's new show "Conspiracy Theory." Then he'll be joined by Ben Stein and Arianna Huffington to talk more about Afghanistan. More with Jesse after this.


KING: Jesse Ventura's new show, the title of which is "Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura," debuts Wednesday night on Tru-TV. Here's a sample.


VENTURA: This is the infamous Hangar 17. This is a place where we've contacted on multiple, multiple occasions to go inside and see what they have inside this building, because there are remnants from September 11th in there. Get up here.

This is what they don't want me to see. We've tried to get in this building. We can't get in it now. The door's locked. You can see girders obviously from the 9/11 site. Why won't they give us access to this building? What is the reason for it?


KING: Wow. Are you going to do every week? How long is the show on, weekly?

VENTURA: Yes, we're weekly, one hour a night. For seven weeks, we will cover seven different modern conspiracies that go back within the last decade. We won't be covering John F. Kennedy or Dr. Martin Luther King or any of the stuff back then. We kept it to the ten-year last decade. Believe me, the problem, Larry, wasn't finding conspiracies; it was choosing which ones we wanted to cover.

KING: What is the 9/11 conspiracy?

VENTURA: Well, the 9/11 conspiracy is simply that the government hasn't been truthful with us. I mean, Larry, a couple weeks ago, the head of the 9/11 Commission legal -- I believe he's former Attorney General Farmer from New Jersey -- came out publicly and stated unequivocally that at some point the government decided that American citizens would not hear the truth about 9/11. I find that very disturbing.

KING: Which is?

VENTURA: I don't know.

KING: What truth? VENTURA: We can't find it, naturally, because I don't have subpoena power. We don't have the ability to put people under oath and threaten them with prosecution.

KING: What would they be hiding in that bulling?

VENTURA: I don't know.

KING: What are you thinking? In your wildest imagination, what do you think?

VENTURA: Well, in my wildest imagination, I find it very difficult that those buildings could fall at the speed of gravity, without being assisted in some way. And I used to do demolition for a living. And how could those buildings fall as fast as I used to free fall out of an airplane? If you took a billiard ball and dropped it the height of the Twin Towers, and you just merely stopped it and started it every floor in free fall, it would take over a minute and a half to fall to the ground. The buildings were down in 10 seconds.

KING: So you think it might have been something inside?

VENTURA: I think most definitely our government has not been honest with us. Here's the big point I make on 9/11: why is it off limits to talk about it? Why is it off limits to question and ask questions? You know, when I went through Navy SEAL training, I was taught in demolition, Larry, that there is no dumb question. If you don't understand it, it's not dumb. That's how I've lived my life. I have a lot of questions that the government refuses to answer.

KING: Is the 9/11 story the first show this Wednesday?

VENTURA: No, it's not. The first show will be HARP. It's based upon a book that a scientist wrote. It says "angels don't play this harp." It's about an antenna grouping that we have up in Alaska that's supposedly an unclassified research center. If it's unclassified, why wouldn't they let me in?

KING: That's going to be something. Jesse Ventura's new show, "Conspiracy Theory."

VENTURA: Clearly they're not being honest, Larry. If it was unclassified, I could get in.

KING: I get you.


KING: The new show debuts Wednesday night on Tru-TV. Arianna Huffington and Ben Stein will join the party. And they were invited, next.


(NEWS BREAK) KING: Jesse Ventura remains us with. Now joining us from Palm Springs, California, Ben Stein, the economist, former presidential speech writer, columnist for "Fortune Magazine." And in Washington, our old friend Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor in chief of And don't forget Jesse Ventura's new show, "Conspiracy Theory," debuts Wednesday night on Tru-TV.

Ben, what do you think of the governors thoughts about Afghanistan?

BEN STEIN, ECONOMIST: Well, I'm very upset about Afghanistan. First of all, it's a quandary. Great powers don't break their words. We promised the people of Afghanistan we would stay there.

But I was at Walter Reed Medical Center five days ago, six days ago. I met a man -- an American soldier shot five times by an Afghan soldier in our Afghan army, our friends, the Afghan army. This guy had been trained for five years by the Americans. Then he came in while these American soldiers were having dinner and shot five of them. So if that's our situation, it's a very bleak situation.

On the other hand, what do we do? Do we turn back to the Taliban and have it become a haven for terrorists and for al Qaeda? I don't know what to do at this point. But an exit date scares me. The Taliban will laugh at the exit date. They'll just wait patiently until the exit date and then take over.

KING: Arianna, what do you think?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, CO-FOUNDER, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Well, Ben really points out the main problem here, which is that we're inserting ourselves in the middle of a civil war. The president has called this a war of necessity, but it's not. It's a war of choice. It's not clear what America's national security interests are.

And as a result, the public is losing trust in this war. And there's inevitably going to be some kind of exit strategy, which, again, as Ben said, makes people in Afghanistan feel they can't trust us there to stay there indefinitely, because we're not going to stay there indefinitely. And the Taliban is going to stay there indefinitely. So without clarifying our national security interests, escalating in Afghanistan is a really tragic decision.

KING: Governor, it would seem we're between a rock and a hard place.

VENTURA: Well, let's look at it that way. Maybe that's why we're there. We have our troops in Iraq and we have our troops in Afghanistan now. Is an invasion of Iran next? Because that's the country in between both of them.

So maybe that's the big picture, and they're not letting us in on it. You know, their plan might be, you know, they're going to do something to Iran, so you get your milton both sides. You know, I haven't figured out yet how the country profits from either one of these wars. And why aren't we paying for it? Let's have, like I said, a war tax so that everybody has to fork out some money to pay for this.

KING: Ben, is that a good point? Shouldn't we all sacrifice?

STEIN: Well, I think we should all sacrifice. I couldn't agree more. I've been saying for five or six years -- when I used to write a column for the "Times," I was saying constantly we should have a tax and use it to pay for the military to get better pay and better treatment.

But an increase in taxes in the middle of a severe recession is highly questionable at best.

VENTURA: Really? So is a war, Ben. So is a war that's draining our economy.

STEIN: I know.

VENTURA: Isn't that a little worse than increasing --

STEIN: Governor, we're in the war and we're in the recession. Why make the recession worse?


VENTURA: And who took us to war? The chicken hawks. The guys who --

STEIN: That doesn't matter.

VENTURA: Yes, it matters to me.

STEIN: It doesn't matter at this point, governor. It doesn't matter at this point. Why would you want to push us deeper into the recession? Let's say it was a bad idea to go into these wars. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn't. Why would you punish the ordinary income tax payer?

KING: Let Arianna have a word in here. Arianna?

HUFFINGTON: Ben, the question here is that when it comes to health care, we are all very concerned about not having a health care bill that is not going to be deficit neutral. Why don't we have the same concerns about escalating in Afghanistan? That's really the question. If we want health care deficit neutral, why isn't the war deficit neutral as well?

KING: Let me get -- I got to get a break, guys. We'll pick up. Let me get a break, and we'll pick up with this very boring interlude. Don't go away.


KING: I wish we had more time. All right, Ben, you were going to say something before I cut in.

STEIN: I was going to say we always pay for wars by running deficits. And generally speaking, we're paying for everything by running deficits. We've had two extremely irresponsible presidents in terms of deficits in the last nine years. And Arianna is right, we should try to make everything budget neutral, but maybe not during a very bad recession.

HUFFINGTON: Well, I agree with Ben. Right now, the greatest priority is jobs and what's happening to people's lives all across America. That should be the highest priority for the White House, not fighting a war which is not in a clear defined way in our national security interests.

KING: If something is wrong, Jesse, why continue a wrong?

VENTURA: Exactly. I mean it's like our ego is in the way here. You know, we dare -- don't dare leave because then people will say we cut and ran, or whatever it might be. But, you know, two wrongs don't make a right. And that's where both of these wars are, two wrongs. And now we think we're making them right? It's not going to happen. You know? There's no end in these wars.

KING: If you had a son there, Ben, and you felt it was wrong, Ben, wouldn't you feel your son died in vain?

STEIN: I would not want my son fighting in Iraq for sure. I think Afghanistan is a whole different story. I would love for my son to be in the military. I'm constantly urging him to join the military, as a matter of fact, and pleading and begging with him to join the military. He has an incredibly beautiful wife, so I don't think he'll ever leave her. But -- he doesn't want to leave his incredibly beautiful wife. He's a young, strong, healthy guy.

KING: Why do you want him to join?

STEIN: Because I think he owes it to his country. I think he owes it to himself to shape up and get himself some responsibility.

VENTURA: Ben, when did you serve? Ben, did you serve?

STEIN: I was in the Navy, was expelled -- you asked me that already. I in the Naval ROTC and was kicked out for having asthma. But I did volunteer and they kicked me out. So there you are.


STEIN: I was in it for a couple months, marching around and learning -- I never was able to serve.

KING: Jesse --

STEIN: Well, Jesse is a brave, heroic guy.

HUFFINGTON: You know what's going to be interesting, Larry? Tomorrow night, the president is going to give a speech in which he's going to try and square the circle. He's going to give General McChrystal more or less what he wanted in terms of troops. And he's going to try to give everybody else who is opposed to this escalation a lot of words. But that's not going to work because the public is losing confidence in this attempt to try and be all things to our people and split the difference.

KING: Sorry, folks, we're out of time. I'm really sorry. Thank you all very much. Todd Sperry (ph), our man in Washington, said that I look like Pepto Bismol tonight. I know someone who hates Pepto Bismol so that hits a nice tone for me.

We got a special midnight show for you tomorrow. It's time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."