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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Dennis Kucinich Switches Vote on Health Care Reform; Interview with Betty White

Aired March 17, 2010 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETTY WHITE, ACTRESS: He thinks I'm neater than hard salami.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, TVs golden girl sweetheart, Betty White. A half million Facebook fans helped land her a very special hosting gig.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITE: Live from New York, it's Saturday night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: She's just signed to do a new TV series.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITE: I don't like you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And she scored in a Super

Bowl ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're playing like Betty White out there.

WHITE: That's not what your girlfriend said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What is the secret of Betty White's long success?

Plus, exclusive -- Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: I've taken a detour.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: His first interview since announcing his flip on health care.

Why did he change his mind?

And then a headline hash out -- health care, Tiger Woods, John Edwards, much more.

All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITE: Damn.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Good evening.

Yes, she's here -- comedian, actress, TVs golden girl, Betty White, is right here with us tonight.

But before we speak to her, we want to talk about the big news of the day. Congress -- and she's ticked that she's not on before him -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio. He made headlines earlier today by announcing that he's changed his mind and will vote for health care reform.

Was there -- Congressman, was there any arm-twisting involved here?

KUCINICH: No. You know, the president and everyone else I spoke to was -- they made their case. I provided the counterargument as to the changes that I wanted to see in the bill. Now we've moved beyond that. I think that the things I want to see eventually in health care, we can move toward over the years. I described it this morning, I'll say it again, Larry, this is -- was a detour.

You know, if you hit a roadblock, you've got a choice -- you can go straight and maybe go over a cliff or you can take a detour and eventually get to the destination that you hope to get to and I'm hoping someday America will have a single payer system and that -- I'm hoping that, as I work with the president on the next step, we can deal with the issues like diet, nutrition, complementary and alternative medicine, things like that.

KING: Knowing you for a long while, though, did you ever think to yourself, am I copping out on my values?

KUCINICH: No, because, you know, I've been very strong in the Congress in -- in arguing that if we can't have a single payer, at least we should have a public option; at least we should protect the rights of states to pursue a -- a single payer plan.

And I -- you know, I've been, basically, the -- the last person to -- to say well, you know what, this is the best we can do. But I will tell you this, that I'm not stopping, Larry.

I'm going to do everything I can to help nurture those efforts that are happening in states across the country to move toward single payer.

I will work with the president in getting this bill passed and the president has committed to work with me in seeing further health care reforms after this bill is...

KING: Do you...

KUCINICH: -- is out of the way.

KING: Do you think it will pass?

KUCINICH: I think it will, yes.

KING: How close a vote?

KUCINICH: I think it will be within a few votes. I mean, you know, this has been a big debate in America. But, unfortunately it's been a debate where there's been so many distortions. People look at the president's position and describe it as socialized medicine. Clearly not.

I mean I -- I'm for Medicare for all. I am for having the government be the single payer.

The president isn't talking about that. The president is talking about reform within the context of a for-profit system.

Well, you know what?

That wasn't my way, but I'm not a "my way or the highway kind of guy," Larry. I thought that when all was said and done, I made my point. I couldn't get my way. That -- that it was more important to see people get a chance to have some coverage, even if it's from private insurance companies, than to kill the bill. I -- I didn't want to be responsible for -- for killing the bill, even though I didn't get what I wanted out of the process.

KING: Despite your majority in both houses, did the -- did the president lose his way anywhere along the way here?

KUCINICH: I...

KING: Why is it so close?

KUCINICH: Well, it's so close because there's -- you know, it's a very contentious issue to begin with. The insurance companies are very powerful. And when you look at how insurance companies basically have lorded over health insurance in this country for so many years, how they, in the last four years, they've raised rates by double digits, they have a lot of power. They have a lot of political power.

And the president took this on. He made it a central issue. He -- you know, did it at some risk to his presidency. He understands that.

And so what we need to do is not just get this bill done, but we need to refocus on other issues in health care and on the broader issues of the economy that have to do with jobs, wages, helping people stay in their homes, education and peace. I mean these are things that -- that we can look to.

But if this bill goes down, it will -- it will put the president in a bad way and I think the Congress may start to become less effective.

KING: You said your wife played a part in your decision.

How so?

KUCINICH: Well, you know, I speak about these things with Elizabeth all the time. And I -- I -- you know, I asked her for her opinion. And she -- and laid it out to her. And I trust her judgment. She's somebody who has a -- a deep understanding, not just of the process, but of human nature and potential. And, you know, I laid it out and said I'm thinking of -- of supporting the bill, what do you -- what do you think?

And we talked about it and she supported it. And that meant a lot, because, you know, you don't -- you know -- you know, those of us who are in partnerships understand that, you know, you -- you want to -- you want to see if you can get the person you live with on board.

KING: Yes.

KUCINICH: And she -- she has been. And I appreciate that.

KING: When do you think it will go to a vote?

KUCINICH: I think we're talking about by the end of this week. And I think, you know, again...

KING: You mean the weekend?

KUCINICH: Yes. Yes, I -- yes, Larry. I think -- you know, and, again, this is the first step. By no means is this bill the bill that I wanted. I've been highly critical of it. And I -- I don't take back anything that I said.

KING: Yes.

KUCINICH: But what I do believe is we take a step, we go in the direction of -- of changing health care. If -- if the bill goes down, though, I doubt that this president or any president in the near future -- or any Congress in the future -- would want to touch anything remotely related to health care. So it's...

KING: Thanks...

KUCINICH: -- there's a lot at stake.

KING: Thanks for joining us, Dennis.

KUCINICH: Larry King, thanks for the chance to be on your show.

Thank you.

KING: Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio.

Betty White is standing by -- she's sitting by. She'll be answering my questions and yours. Go to Facebook/larryking and send them in.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lovely Betty White.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get 'em, Betty. Get 'em.

WHITE: I could tell you stories that would break your heart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITE: I actually know many of you and I've worked with quite a few, maybe had a couple. And you know who you are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the sparkling television star and great password player, Betty White.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the camera. When the red light goes on, that means that the camera is about...

WHITE: Ted, I know what I'm doing. Just cue me in and stick a sock in it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITE: Your curiosity is going to be so piqued, you'll beg for more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: She's here. Betty White -- Emmy-winning actress, comedian, also known as a strong voice for animal health and welfare. She's set to host "Saturday Night Live" on May 8th and to star in a new TV series, "Caught in Cleveland."

She's 88 years young. When you get to be that age, you're proud to say it. Boy, you...

WHITE: I don't know where the breaking point comes. We -- at first, you try to hide it and then you begin to brag about it. Now I'm to the point of hello, I'll Betty White, I'm 88.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: OK. By the way, do you have a thought on this health care issue?

WHITE: I think it's -- my opinion means nothing because I'm not politically oriented. But I -- I really think it's wonderful if it does pass.

KING: OK.

How did the "Saturday Night Live" thing come about?

It's going to feature a reunion of six former female cast members -- Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, Rachel Dratch and you.

WHITE: Don't ask me. It all came out of nowhere. Somebody put -- I think it's Facebook. And they began to get hits. I -- I never years and years ago, I turned it down like three times because it's so New York and I'm not New York. And I was -- you know, I just thought the safe way to play it was not to do it.

Well, then all of a sudden, this thing came and the next thing I know I'm going to be doing it in May.

Ohhh.

KING: Are you nervous?

WHITE: Yes.

KING: You're nervous?

And you -- all these years experience you've got in the position and you're nervous?

WHITE: Well, the -- the more years that go by, the nervouser you get.

KING: But you'll have a good time. And it was a Facebook campaign. A half a million people signed on.

I -- by the way, do you Twitter?

WHITE: No, I'm afraid I don't. I know what it is, but I don't use it.

KING: Lorne Michaels says he always wanted you to host.

WHITE: Well, I don't believe that or he would have asked me.

KING: So they -- but they asked you long ago.

WHITE: Long ago, three times, yes. But it's -- but they've been so nice. And I have no idea how this thing burgeoned.

KING: All right. I'll tell you an idea. The Facebook campaign to get Betty on "Saturday Night Live" was inspired by a Super Bowl commercial that she did.

Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike, what is your deal, man?

WHITE: Oh, come on, man. You've been riding me all day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like, you're playing like Betty White out there.

WHITE: That's not what your girlfriend says.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Janie...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eat a Snickers.

Better?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: A Snickers commercial and you -- suddenly, the rejuvenation of Betty White.

WHITE: It's so silly. And we're all over the world with it. We're in Africa. We're in -- in the middle of Europe.

KING: Did you have fun doing that?

WHITE: Oh, great fun. It was cold. That water was cold. It was early in the morning, but it was great fun.

KING: Did they tackle a dummy?

WHITE: No. They tackled -- the stunt lady took that -- that dive into the...

(LAUGHTER)

WHITE: -- into the muddy water. And then I had to get in and lie down in it. She did all the work and I got the laugh. If that isn't an injustice, I don't know what is.

KING: We have a Facebook question: "What kind of skits do you want to do on "Saturday Night Live?""

WHITE: I have no idea. I'm not back seat driving. I'll do whatever they tell me to do.

KING: How did you -- where did you start in this business?

WHITE: It was 1949. I was on a local television show here with a local disk jockey, Al Jarvis. We were on five-and-a-half hours a day, six days a week for four years.

KING: That was the beginning?

WHITE: That was the beginning. No script, no nothing, you just sort of -- you just talked.

KING: How do you explain your longevity?

WHITE: Sheer, blind luck. I'm the luckiest old broad that ever drew breath.

KING: Just luck?

WHITE: Just...

KING: No talent?

WHITE: Well, I mean I think -- I think the reason for the longevity is that people have generations -- several generations have -- have gotten to know me over the years. So I've become sort of part of a -- you know, you have relatives that you're not thrilled with -- sort of part of the family.

KING: You know, "Saturday Night Live," the general appeal is a young demographic.

WHITE: I know.

Well, what are they doing with me?

KING: It is a thought. Ah, you'll kill them.

WHITE: Well...

KING: They'll love you.

WHITE: We'll have fun.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Betty White.

She's got a new TV series coming.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're playing like Betty White out there.

WHITE: That's not what your girlfriend said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You work hard. You're in every movie.

WHITE: Well, I'm such a -- I'm such a whore, I can't say no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does anyone else smell pot?

WHITE: What are you, a cop?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

WHITE: Then what's it to you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITE: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right means right.

WHITE: Get me a cup of coffee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

WHITE: When Betty White says she wants a cup of coffee, you get her a (EXPLETIVE LANGUAGE) cup of coffee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: By the way, that Snickers commercial won the "USA Today" annual Super Bowl ad meter as the best commercial during last year's Super Bowl.

We solicited questions for Betty through the LARRY KING LIVE Facebook page.

Here's one: "Do you consider yourself a new sex symbol for the younger generation?"

WHITE: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I mean I -- it's not that I consider myself that, I just have to concede the point. You know, it's so true.

KING: You were a loose woman, weren't you, Betty?

Admit it.

WHITE: Oh, I was -- I was loose and -- but, well, gravity took over, you know.

KING: Were you easy?

Would you say you were easy?

WHITE: No...

KING: (INAUDIBLE) when married to Allen?

WHITE: No. No. I wasn't easy. I was -- I'm an incurable romantic.

KING: But you played easy on "Mary Tyler Moore."

WHITE: Oh, well -- oh, well, she was -- she was just this side of hookerville.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: People -- oh, by the way, Sarah Palin. You stirred up a little fuss a while back when you called her on a late night TV interview "a crazy bitch."

WHITE: Well, that was written. It was -- it was Craig Ferguson and we all...

KING: He wrote that for you?

WHITE: Yes. He did. They wrote a lot of stuff for me.

KING: I thought that was an impromptu interview. I've done Craig. That -- they don't...

WHITE: Well, it was -- but we do little -- little sketches and I played different characters coming in. I was -- I was John McCain's speechwriter. And, so he -- he -- Craig said well, I understand he doesn't use a computer. Then -- then, well, oh, no he commutes by -- I mean he comm -- communicates by carrier pigeon. The only trouble is Sarah Palin keeps shooting them down, that crazy bitch.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Good delivery.

We had this question Tweeted to Kings Things. We get Tweeter. We get Facebook.

WHITE: Uh-huh.

KING: If asked, would you do "Dancing With The Stars?"

WHITE: I have been asked. And I've thanked them very profusely. And I said, no thank you. I think Cloris Leachman took care of that whole department.

KING: You don't think you could -- but it's really testing, isn't it?

I mean the...

WHITE: It is.

KING: -- they work you out pretty good.

WHITE: It would be fun and I would love it. But I think there comes a time when I -- I don't want to embarrass the audience, but Cloris -- Cloris did it and she did fine. So I think she's taken care of our age bracket.

KING: You had a great marriage to Allen Ludden, didn't you?

WHITE: Oh, it was the best. He was the love of my life.

KING: He left too -- too early.

How old was Allen?

WHITE: Allen was 64. And it -- it -- he said that blooming big C got him. But he was -- what you saw was what you got. He was one of the nicest, dearest people.

KING: And a great game show host.

WHITE: Oh, yes. A great game show host. And what I fell in love with -- what got us together was his enthusiasm. He was interested in everything. There wasn't anything that he didn't want to know more about and hear about. That's fun to live with.

KING: And you never remarried?

WHITE: No. When you've had the best, who needs the rest?

KING: This animal thing?

WHITE: Oh, well...

KING: Have you always been an animal lover?

WHITE: Since the womb. My mother and dad were...

KING: The womb.

WHITE: -- just as bad as -- as I was on the subject.

KING: You're an advocate, too, right?

WHITE: Well, I'm not so much an advocate. I'm just -- I work for animal health and well-being. I'm not into politics. I don't demonstrate. I'm not an animal activist.

KING: You're not in PETA?

You're not in PEETTAAA?

WHITE: No. No, I'm not. Those people do fine things and we need those things. But I'm just an animal -- I've been with the Morris Animal Foundation for 45 years.

KING: Do you object to -- based on the recent killing -- do you object to whales being kept in big pools?

WHITE: I -- I'm -- I've also worked with the Los Angeles Zoo for 46 years. I, of course, for that individual whale -- and I'm going to get in trouble for this -- of course, I would love to have him swimming free. But the only way we can make the public aware of animals, what they are -- you can read about them, you can see them on film forever. But unless you come to the zoo and see and smell and -- and touch the real animal, you don't know that elephants are in trouble. You don't know why they're in trouble. And I think it's crazy to think...

KING: So those in the zoo are paying a price, in a sense, to educate us?

WHITE: To educate us. But they're not paying a price. They're getting such tender loving care and safety and all that. But it's not freedom. And it's so easy for the outside people to say, oh, but they should all be let free.

What we're doing to their environment and what we're -- we're taking away their environment, there's -- pretty soon there's not going to be any place to set them free.

KING: There ain't no free.

WHITE: Exactly.

KING: We'll be right with -- back with more of Betty White on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

By the way, tomorrow night, Kirstie Alley.

Do you know her?

WHITE: Oh, sure.

Whew.

KING: Wait until you see this one. Tomorrow night.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with the adorable, delightful, talented, beautiful Betty White.

WHITE: Oh, I love all those things.

KING: A Facebook question from David. This is serious: "Betty, what are you doing Saturday night?"

KING: What did you have in mind?

KING: A date proposal.

WHITE: Well, that's all...

KING: When was the last time you went out on a date?

WHITE: Probably about five years ago.

KING: What was it like?

You were 83...

WHITE: Oh...

KING: -- bouncing along.

WHITE: Well, I wasn't bouncing as much then as I am now.

KING: Where did he take you?

WHITE: To dinner. You know, we -- we had a -- had a nice dinner. And he -- he's a very nice man. But somehow, I just -- dating is work now. It used to be fun, but dating is kind of work now.

KING: Oh, so you -- you never got over Allen?

WHITE: Never.

KING: Yes.

WHITE: I never will.

KING: All right. Your upcoming series on TV Land is called "Hot in Cleveland".

We have a sneak peek.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "HOT IN CLEVELAND," COURTESY TV LAND)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm Melanie. I -- I will be leasing the place.

WHITE: I've been the caretaker of this house for 50 years. But you can kick me out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, gee, I wouldn't.

WHITE: Oh, no worries. If you can escape from the Nazis, you can handle anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You escaped from the Nazis?

WHITE: Escaping from the Nazis was the least of my worries.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you don't hear that very often.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what are you, like 100?

WHITE: I don't like you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What's the premise of "Hot in Cleveland?"

WHITE: It's three -- three gals, wonderful gals, Valerie Bertinelli and Jane Leeves and Wendy Malick. And they are all not having any action in Los Angeles. So they decide to fly to Paris for -- maybe for some romance. Well, there's a plane problem and they are grounded in Cleveland.

And as they walk through to get another flight, all the guys in the airport are hitting on them and eyeing them and all that. And they say, why are we spending all that money to go to Paris when we're hot in Cleveland?

KING: Ah.

And what are -- you are the caretaker of the house they live in?

WHITE: They moved into the house and I kind of go along with the house. And, of course, I'm the proverbial pain in the ass. It's so -- but it's -- it's great fun. And the girls are wonderful together. The chemistry together is -- is great.

KING: Why do you -- you don't have to work.

Why do you keep doing this?

WHITE: It's such fun.

Larry, why should you stop something you enjoy so much?

My life -- half animals and half show business -- the two things I love the most. Why should I quit?

KING: Are you -- are you at all surprised that you are suddenly very hot again?

WHITE: Oh, I'm not hot again, but I mean I'm surprised...

KING: No, you're hot again.

WHITE: -- to still be working -- what did you have in mind, Larry?

(LAUGHTER)

WHITE: Well, but...

KING: You can't get over that, can you?

WHITE: No, I can't. But I'll try everything I can get. I just -- I just am amazed and I'm -- I'm thrilled and I'm -- I'm going along with it and enjoying it.

KING: You did a movie with Sandra Bullock, right...

WHITE: Oh, yes.

KING: "The Proposal?"

WHITE: Oh, yes, "The Proposal."

KING: What did you think of her and the Academy Award?

WHITE: Oh, I was so excited. I couldn't be more thrilled. It was (INAUDIBLE). And it's not easy to root for somebody when Meryl Streep is also in the contention. But I -- I just was delighted. And what's happened to her is she is one of the nicest, greatest most human beings that I know. She's a (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: And a talent. She's a hell of a talent.

WHITE: Oh, tell me about it. She really is.

KING: It took "Blind Side" for people to realize it, though.

WHITE: Yes. Yes. But -- but they did realize it in time to give her the award, which was great.

KING: Some more moments with Betty White, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: By the way, you've had two -- three enormous hit television shows, right, "Mary Tyler Moore," "Golden Girls" and --

WHITE: "Mama's Family," you know, still goes along. How lucky can you get to have that? KING: You've had an extraordinarily successful career, in a business that it's tough to be successful in.

WHITE: And that they say when you reach a certain age, women can't get a job. I'm hoping they don't discover that in my department. You're celebrating an anniversary coming up.

KING: June 1st, 25 years this show, in this slot right here.

WHITE: That's -- it's the only show --

KING: It's the longest running show -- the longest running show starting at the same time, on the same network, hosted by the same person.

WHITE: Congratulations, Larry. That's wonderful.

KING: If you let me -- if you tell me I'm going to be 88, I'll take it.

WHITE: OK.

KING: Did you ever think you would be 88? Or you don't think about it?

WHITE: I think I learned at my mother's knee, we never thought age. Everybody else is so age conscious. You go for a long time -- no, not wanting anybody to know how old you are. And then you pass a breaking point. I can't tell you where that comes, where then you brag about it.

I don't think -- it's my health and my energy that I'm so blessed with and so grateful for, that I'm busy being grateful for that, rather than worrying about how old I am.

KING: What do you do your romantic urges?

WHITE: I have a golden retriever, but in a nice way. No. No, I'm an incredible romantic and I get crushes.

KING: You do?

WHITE: Oh, Do I get crushes.

KING: Do you have a current crush.

WHITE: No. Well, I mean only a private one. Nobody knows about the ones, but I have -- I fantasize and I have a great time.

KING: Last night was terrific, right?

WHITE: Absolutely.

KING: Another Facebook question: "who is the funniest person you know, besides yourself?" You know you're funny. Who makes you laugh? WHITE: I just -- my agent, Jeff Witches, is -- he and I -- he calls me on a business call and the next thing you know, we're into schtick and we're laughing ourselves silly. That's a lovely relationship to have with your agent.

KING: It's great, especially your agent, because agents aren't generally funny.

WHITE: No, they're not. But he's a funny agent. He's not a good agent, he's a funny agent.

KING: What haven't you don't that you want to do? Who is on your to-do list?

WHITE: My answer to that, my standard answer, is always Robert Redford. But that doesn't get me anywhere.

KING: Have you ever met him.

WHITE: No, and I never want to. I just want to enjoy it from a distance. I would be panicky if I ever met him. I've taken his name in vein for so long.

KING: You have to go up to Utah and he's there.

WHITE: I know. He's also in Santa Monica.

KING: He's not -- he don't hide. He's public.

WHITE: I just don't ever want to meet him. It would spoil all the fun. I want to fantasize and talk about him behind his back.

KING: I'll tell you, he looks just as good as he does on screen and has ever looked. He's aged very well.

WHITE: Oh, I -- tell me about it.

KING: Is there something you would like to do, though, professionally you haven't done?

WHITE: Professionally, no.

KING: Have you done Broadway.

WHITE: No, not Broadway. I've done theater. I did eight productions of "King and I" and "South Pacific" and all those. So I had the fun of doing it in big outdoor arena, like Kansas City and St. Louis, Minneapolis. I've never had the desire to do Broadway. Isn't that silly? I just enjoy -- I've been a television kid all my life.

Recently, in the past few years, I've done big screen movies, and that was very exciting.

KING: One other thing, the secret in television, in all those great sitcoms you did, is the writing, right?

WHITE: You can't do it without the writing. Actors will take all the credit, but it's got to be on the page or it doesn't work.

KING: And "The Mary Tyler Moore" show was the classic example.

WHITE: Oh yes, it was wonderful. So was "Golden Girls," the greatest writing staff in the world. You would go in for the Monday morning read around the table.

KING: You would laugh at the read arounds, right?

WHITE: You would have trouble getting through the script because it cracked you up.

KING: Great seeing you, Betty.

WHITE: Wonderful seeing you.

KING: We can't wait for "Saturday Night Live," May 8th.

WHITE: Thank you, and Happy anniversary June 1st.

KING: Thank you. Don't forget the show. It's called "Hot in Cleveland." It's going to air on TV Land.

WHITE: Thank you so much.

KING: We've got some great minds standing by, an irreverent take on today's headlines. Don't miss what they have to say about Tiger Woods, John Edwards and health care reform -- now there's a trifecta -- next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are now going to do rat-a-tat television. We're going to take items in the news, get there great people to talk about them. The people are Ben Stein, economist, former presidential speech writer, best selling author, columnist for "Fortune Magazine," Penn Jillette -- he's in Vegas -- star of "Penn and Teller Live" at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Vegas. Penn and Teller also have a series called "BS" on Showtime. He's a libertarian. And Nancy Giles, social commentator, actress, contributor on CBS' "Sunday Morning."

Ben, we'll start with health care. Is it going to pass?

BEN STEIN, ECONOMIST: It will pass, but it's going to be a tremendous burden for Mr. Obama, because he's violated so many of his promises about openness and transparency and a new era in government. Believe me, the Republicans would have done the same thing. It's just that he promised he would be different.

KING: Penn, is it going to pass?

PENN JILLETTE, "PENN AND TELLER LIVE": I think it will. I believe that the Democrats and Obama want what's best for us, and probably know what's best for us. But is it OK to force even a good thing on people? I don't know.

KING: Nancy?

NANCY GILES, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's going to pass. And I'm actually really gratified listening to Dennis Kucinich tonight, because I think it's a step in the right direction. When you think of issues like gender equality, that didn't stop with women getting the vote in 1920. Civil rights didn't stop with Brown Versus the Board of Education.

We're getting a foot in the door to make some really great changes. It's kind of unacceptable to have tens of millions of people in this country without access to a good doctor or good health care. That's just wrong.

KING: Ben, you may not agree with him -- you may not agree, but do you respect Dennis Kucinich?

STEIN: Actually, no, I don't. I'm going to be honest here. I don't like him at all. He gives me the creeps.

KING: He gives you the creeps, because he's very liberal?

STEIN: No, he just has a creepy look about him. I'm sorry, with all do respect, he has a creepy look about him. I'm sure he's a great guy. I'm sure he's a wonderful guy. I'm sure he's a much better human being than I am, but I got to ay, he gives me the creeps.

GILES: Ben, I've got to say, sometimes you give me the creeps. So I guess that makes everything kind of even. I respect him. I think that he's realizing that getting a foot in the door means a lot more than not doing anything, which is what the Republicans have been doing. Nothing.

KING: Penn, what do you make of the Kucinich switch?

JILLETTE: I'm proud to say that no one gives me the creeps. But I listened to him say to Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC that he would vote no matter what. I guess -- so Obama takes everybody in Air Force One and flies to their district and does a rally and hope someone yells for them to vote? I don't know. I would like to think -- one of the cool things about him was that he seemed to be so true to himself. And changing around for a foot in the door all seems just a little bit less heroic than I would like.

KING: The president appeared on -- yes, he appeared on Fox News earlier today. He went into hostile territory. The host interrupted him. He spoke more than the president. Anyway, he talked health care and politics. He also asked about Tiger Woods' return to golf. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that Tiger has acknowledged that he betrayed his family. That's a personal issue that he's got to work out. I hope they've worked it out. I'm sure he's going to still be a terrific golfer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Tiger, what do you make of, Ben, coming back?

STEIN: I think it's great that he's coming back. I don't think it's any -- of anybody's damn business, except him and his wife. I think it's totally between them. I think it's outrageous the way the media has made a tremendous brouhaha out of this. It's just between him and his wife.

KING: Try to have an opinion, Ben, next time. Nancy, what do you think? First Penn, then Nancy.

(CROSS TALK)

JILLETTE: I have a slight difference in grammar with Ben. That is I think the word is among and not between. But certainly it's none of our business.

KING: Nancy, do you complete the triumvirate here? Do you think it's none of our business?

GILES: It is none of our business. It is a sad fact that everybody who is a celebrity, their lives are sort of open to the media. I will say this about Tiger Woods: I'm sure he has really great health care. Part of me doesn't care. He has access to the best health care in the world, doesn't he?

KING: What do you think of that, Ben?

STEIN: I'm not sure what the connection of it is with anything else.

GILES: There's no connection, Ben.

STEIN: I better not say anything more or else she'll --

KING: Did you see the president on Fox?

STEIN: No, I did not.

KING: Did you see it, Penn?

JILLETTE: No.

KING: Nancy, did you see it?

GILES: Nope.

STEIN: But a lot of people watch Fox.

KING: I'm not saying they don't. I didn't know the host, but he interrupted him a lot.

STEIN: Didn't it look like it was Hannity? It looked like Hannity to me.

KING: No, it wasn't.

STEIN: I will say this about Mr. Obama: he's the most diplomatic and polite person in the whole world. It kind of saddens me that he's yelling at Israel so much, because he's normally the most polite, diplomatic person in the world. We could really all learn a lot from his interpersonal skills.

KING: We'll be back with Ben and Penn -- that rhymes -- and Nancy. Don't go away.

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(NEWS BREAK)

KING: Remember that amazing documentary series "Planet Earth?" We've got a blog exclusive from a cameraman about working on the breathtaking follow-up to that series. It's called "Life." It premiers on Discovery this Sunday. To read all about how they put it together, go to our blog, CNN.com/LarryKing. Ben, what's your read on the whole Rielle Hunter confessional in "GQ?"

STEIN: This whole thing is astonishing. The story of Edwards is just amazing. This incredibly good looking guy, supposedly so devoted to his cancer stricken wife, supposedly so devoted to the poor and the working class -- it turns out every single bit of it was a lie and hypocrisy. The heart is deceitful above all things, says the Bible, and boy is he an example.

KING: You don't think he's devoted to the poor? You can't be devoted to the poor and still --

STEIN: He's quoted by his campaign manager saying it made him sick to be among working class and poor people, because they didn't smell good and their teeth wreaked of tobacco. It made him sick to be around people who weren't rich.

KING: Penn, what do you make of the whole Edwards' affair.

JILLETTE: You know, I try to hang tough on certain things not being any of our business. But some of the stuff he says sure seems like it does cross over into our business, especially when he -- his whole image was based on that caring and concern and so on. I'd like to make it none of our business, but I'm afraid it is a little bit.

KING: Nancy, what do you make of Rielle doing that interview?

GILES: First of all, I agree with Ben and Penn, and I think Rielle is an opportunist. I hate saying this. I'm a woman. She's a woman. But you just know --

JILLETTE: I'm an opportunist.

GILES: Both of you guys, you know what's going to happen. She's going to probably have her own fashion line, fragrance, then a reality show, and then probably pose nude. And why do we have to even know any of it? I find her and the whole thing horrible. And I'm so grateful that John Edwards wasn't chosen to be vice president. Yikes. Yikes.

STEIN: Think about the fact that this man's image, every single bit of it, was fabrication. He really did not care at all about anything except looking good, having his hair look good, having lots of money, having something like a 20,000 square foot while he's talking about his sympathy for the poor. That's fine, rich people can be sympathetic to the poor.

But the fact that he had such incredible contempt for the people whose votes for which he was asking, that is really very unfortunate.

GILES: I have to say, about his hair, that 400 dollar haircut that got -- I always that if he just came to New York and went to like Astro-Place (ph) Barbers and got a really cheap cut, it would really balance things out. It always bothered me.

KING: We'll be back with more with Ben Stein, Penn Jillette and Nancy Giles. Don't go away.

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KING: By the way, if you heard some background noise in our studio tonight, we had "LARRY KING" Cardiac Foundation auction winners from Travers City, Michigan. We have representatives of the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team, in town to play Anaheim, and play Los Angeles tomorrow, and a whole group of folks from Moorepark College. Nice to have them all behind. You may have heard them during Betty White and the rest.

Ben Stein, they're a nice group.

STEIN: Very nice, very nice.

KING: What do you make, Ben, of Obama, this year in office?

STEIN: I think if he gets health care through, and if it's not a disaster, it will be fine. But if it turns out to be a disaster and people hate it, it's going to pull him down terribly.

KING: It's how well it works.

STEIN: But we won't know for four years. We'll have to judge him for a long time after he's out of office. I think he's trying his best. I do not like what he's doing to Israel. He's cracking the whip on Israel way too hard.

KING: You don't think Israel did the right thing?

STEIN: I think they were very stupid about their timing. But they've been our most reliable ally in the Middle East since time immemorial. I don't think it's right to humiliate them.

KING: Penn, what's your read on the president?

JILLETTE: There's so much about Bush I disagreed with, and there's so much that Obama's doing exactly the same. The corporate bailouts, the signing the Patriot Act, the continuing wars -- it just seems awful to me. And I'm so upset that there's really no anti-war movement anymore. The anti-war movement was the anti-Bush movement. And as Obama keeps doing some of the same stuff, some of us who disagreed with Bush have to continue disagreeing with Obama, even though he's so much better spoken and so much more pleasant.

KING: Nancy?

GILES: I think that President Obama came in at an incredibly bad time. There were so many big, big, big issues at play. The economy was tanking. The war had depleted so much money and so many lives. And him being the first African-American president is truly a big deal. And I think that he's handled it with quite a lot of grace.

KING: The jury's still out, too early.

GILES: Yeah, it's 14 months.

KING: I got to go to a tape here. Hold it a second. The 66th Annual Radio and Television Correspondent's Dinner is being held tonight in Washington, a black tie gathering, press, pundits and politicians. Vice President Joe Biden is the featured speaker. Let's tune in.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Dick, at least its my foot.

By the way, Rahm was only pointing his finger.

Look, Ken, in fairness -- I know you're going to get mad that I'm defending a Republican. But in fairness, I think you're a little rough on the Republicans for constantly repeating the mantra, the health care bill is 222 pages long. Put yourself in their spot. Just ask Sarah, that's a hell of a lot to write in the palm of your hand. I don't blame them.

By the way, I know this is all supposed to be humorous, as I'm trying to be, but, you know, I do have to defend our administration a little bit here, especially the Recovery Act, which I have been put in charge of. Republicans keep saying it hasn't created a single job. Well, tell that to Senator Scott Brown.

By the way, speaking of Scott, it's kind of ironic, the man who posed with his pants down caught us with our pants off. I don't know how this works. We were a little slow, Scott, picking up how good you were. But we sort of zeroed in now. You know, it's often said, a picture is worth 1,000 words. Normally I would rather go with the words.

But I -- tonight, I sum up the journey Barack and I have had since being elected. I thought the best way to do that is share some of my photos with you and to let you know how I'm adjusting to the job.

At our convention, President Obama addressed a stadium of roaring supporters. But let me set the record straight, he's not the only one that addressed a stadium.

And by the way, Sasha and Malia weren't the only ones to get a dog when they went to Washington. I got one too. His name is Champ. You can see, he's a Democratic dog. He's biting the hand that feeds him.

Look, I got to level with you, one of the first things the president did was said Joe, we got to have some ground rules here -- ground rules relating to our relationship and how you function in your job. So the next slide is one of our first days in the White House. The president is explaining me exactly how far down I have to bow when I enter the Oval Office.

That's not the only ground rule.

I don't know who the hell is doing these slides, but they're about two seconds ahead. At any rate, it's a real simple proposition.

KING: Joe Biden, being funny tonight and looking very good, recent guest right here on LARRY KING LIVE. We thank Ben Stein, Penn Jillette and Nancy Giles for being with us. They will be back, because they proved to be a terrific, dynamic trio.

Great night tomorrow night. Kirstie Alley is the guest for the hour. You will not turn away. That's tomorrow night. "AC 360" is now with Anderson Cooper. Anderson?