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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Enormous Twister Outbreak in Midwest, South; Interview with Penn Jillette; Interview with Kal Penn; Interview with Kirk Cameron
Aired March 2, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Breaking news: killer tornadoes strike again. We'll have the latest.
Plus, Rush to judgment. The political firestorm over Rush Limbaugh's outrageous comments over birth control in the days leading up to Super Tuesday.
I talk to a man who loves nothing better than an old, good argument -- Penn Jillette on God, politics and sex. It's all on the table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENN JILLETTE, COMEDIAN: The concept is that sex is bad.
MORGAN: Who thinks sex is bad?
JILLETTE: Not me. Not you. All the people that come out and say that, you know, sex is strictly for pro-creation. You can't be more anti-sex than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Plus, from Hollywood to Washington and back again. Kal Penn goes stoner movies to working in the White House.
And child star-turned-outspoken conservative, Kirk Cameron. It gets a bit lively.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRK CAMERON, CONSERVATIVE: Morally, things that used to be unheard of or just shied away from are now normal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: And owning America, my personal take on Rush Limbaugh's comments.
This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
MORGAN: Good evening. We'll get to my interview with Penn Jillette in just a moment.
But, first, we have the latest breaking news on the severe weather across the country tonight.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I'm Rob Marciano live from Ooltewah, Tennessee, a town just north and east of Chattanooga, that is reeling tonight after a hectic, hectic day. Just around 1:00 this afternoon, a tornado came through this town and tore up a number of subdivisions. Dozens of homes damaged or destroyed and up to 29 people injured, some of which are still in the hospital.
We got on the scene where those homes were flattened and took some video. A number of these victims are at shelters or with friends and families tonight.
We had to evacuate that scene because it wasn't over as far as the severe weather is concerned. We're now at a staging area near a high school where the command post is and a shelter. And just as we got here and started to set up for more live shots, another severe thunderstorm with incredible amounts of hail coming through this area.
There was a tornado reported just to the south of us. And if that wasn't enough, just about an hour ago, another storm coming through the area with a tornado touching down just to our south. So a long, long day.
I'm happy to report to you, though, 29 injured, yes, but as of right now, zero fatalities. But they had to stop rescue operations because of those severe thunderstorms that came through this area and the worst of which may very welcome through in another couple of hours.
So, still waiting out the next couple of hours for the next round of storms to come through and then the cleanup efforts will begin here in east Tennessee.
Right now, I want to toss it back to my colleague in the CNN weather center, Chad Myers, who has been tracking thee storms all night long -- Chad.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Thanks, Rob.
Just for the viewers' sake, you are right there. The storm you were talking about an hour ago is still going strong and moving into the high country here of North Carolina. A tornado warning not that far north of Atlanta, the metro area here, up into the Kennesaw Mountain, from Dallas to Kennesaw, still a tornado warning on that cell and a storm very close to Rome, Georgia, with a tornado warning on it.
Still 10 warnings going on right now, 10 tornado warnings, but at a time today, I was up to 29 tornado warnings. So I know 10 is still terrible, but it's a third of where we were earlier today when West Liberty, Kentucky, was hit so very hard, right up here. It was hit very, very hard as well. The weather is sliding to the east and the later it gets in the night, the cooler the air is getting. The cooler the air gets, the smaller the storms get. So, eventually tonight, we'll all be able to breathe easy and go to bed. But for now, it's still a little warm out there, still muggy out there and that air is still clashing warm to cold and we'll still have more tornadoes probably likely tonight.
We'll keep you advised and I'll keep you up to date on twitter as well, Anderson -- Piers.
MORGAN: Chad, we'll be back with you. Thank you very much for now.
The big story tonight: Rush Limbaugh and sex.
As we count down to Super Tuesday, it seems all of Washington is buzzing of the controversial comments made by the controversial conservative shock jock today.
House Speaker John Boehner's office condemned Limbaugh for blasting a woman who appeared before a Congressional panel to advocate the access to birth control. Limbaugh called this woman a student, and I quote, "a slut and a prostitute."
He went on to make the outrageous claim that she wanted taxpayers to pay her to have sex just because she wanted birth control.
My guest tonight is a man who I'm sure will have pretty strong views about this and about ever other issue.
Penn Jillette, how are you?
JILLETTE: Oh, why I -- I'm just so excited to have Rush and sex below my picture --
JILLETTE: Just those words.
I -- you know, the weird thing about this is that he just made explicit what's implicit in the argument. I mean, all the arguments are anti-sex.
MORGAN: Let's hear what he actually said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: So, Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here's the deal -- if we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. And I'll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: Completely ridiculous. He then goes on to say, and I'm going to read this. He goes on to say, "What does it make her?" This is a girl. And she's a third year student for God's sake.
"It makes her a slut. It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having to have so much sex she can't afford contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We're the pimps."
That's one of the most outrageous things I've ever heard.
JILLETTE: Absolutely. But you know it's not really worse than just attacking sex. I mean, the people that come out and say that the contraception is wrong and attack sex are really saying the same things. He just used -- he just used cruder and very impolite and offense words.
But the concept isn't that different. It's --
MORGAN: What is the concept then?
JILLETTE: The concept is that sex is bad.
MORGAN: Well, who thinks sex is bad?
JILLETTE: Not me. Not you. But underneath our name it said, "Rush and Sex." I mean, I think that -- that all the people that come out and say that, you know, sex is strictly for procreation. You know, the Catholic Church essentially saying sex is for procreation. I mean, you can't be more anti-sex than that.
MORGAN: But when -- when I hear Rush Limbaugh go on like this, he sounds like some archaic --
MORGAN: -- Keynesian dinosaur. It's like we're -- mate, we're in 2012. You ridiculous, old man.
JILLETTE: I it's going to be really hard for us to argue about this.
MORGAN: Is it?
JILLETTE: Yes, I agree --
MORGAN: Well, do you -- or do you have a slight position because you're an atheist, that actually -- this is what happens --
JILLETTE: No. No. No.
MORGAN: -- when you -- when you take religion to its extremities?
JILLETTE: Well, I -- I actually think that this does certainly -- anti-sex does start often in religion. But he doesn't -- he doesn't actually mention religion.
MORGAN: I would love to know who Rush Limbaugh has had sex with over the years.
JILLETTE: You would?
MORGAN: How many times he has sex.
JILLETTE: You would?
MORGAN: I want to see what he does in his perfect little world. The idea that some student who is taking responsibility for her life, who is probably struggling. I don't know about her case -- but many students struggle financially, because in this country it's very, very expensive to go to college.
MORGAN: Let's wake up and get real. The idea that she wants to take responsibility, she's at law school, and she wants to take responsibility for her life. She's sexually active, and she's saying, "I want to have contraception."
This makes her a slut and a prostitute? I think it's absolutely disgusting.
JILLETTE: I stopped listening right after you said you wanted to know all about Rush having sex.
JILLETTE: I was -- I was so kind of gob smacked by that, because I don't much sure I share that with you completely.
MORGAN: I'm amazed --
JILLETTE: But I'll get into it. I'll go -- I'll go with you. I'll go with you. I'll go watch Rush Limbaugh have sex with you.
JILLETTE: I'll do that. I'm not -- I'm not completely comfortable with it.
MORGAN: There's actually anything I'd rather let's do than watch it I think. But I would love to be his interrogator about his private life as he wants to be about this woman, because she's acting perfectly responsibly. JILLETTE: Well, sure. Of course, but it all depends on whether you think sex is a bad thing. Once you've said sex is a bad thing -- doesn't all of this follow logically?
MORGAN: But there can't be anybody in the world who genuinely thinks sex is a bad thing.
JILLETTE: Sure there are.
MORGAN: That it's a bad thing?
JILLETTE: Sure. I think --
MORGAN: Or a bad thing outside of wedlock?
JILLETTE: Well, sure. But I mean, I think -- I think that there are people who think it's just simply bad and dirty. I mean, I don't think you can -- I think there's -- there's a lot of precedent for that.
MORGAN: Yes, but then -- then it's the job of responsible broadcasters to actually say it isn't bad. It's one of the great wonders of the world, isn't it?
JILLETTE: Absolutely. And I'm agreeing with you on everything except that I don't want to know everything about Rush Limbaugh's sex life which I balked at and then jumped on board with you.
MORGAN: I'm amazed he's on air.
JILLETTE: I can see that.
MORGAN: Calling a student that?
I -- anyway. Let's move on.
MORGAN: When you see the Republican debate and the nominees going at each other about all these social issues and stuff, a lot of it is motivated by their religious beliefs.
MORGAN: Typically with somebody like Rick Santorum in particular making a big play for that. What do you think? As an atheist, when you see that happening politically, and these are people who may one day be your president -- what do you think?
JILLETTE: Well, you have to -- it's very, very hard not to just be told you so. And to be smug, and to understand that -- that this is things people -- things people believe in their heart. And they are very, very real.
The fact that it's not real to me doesn't mean it's not real to him. It's very hard. I try to never be cynical about this. And I try to appreciate the passion, and appreciate the honesty.
MORGAN: Well, let's -- let's --
JILLETTE: He's simply wrong.
MORGAN: You're sounding very measured now. Let's hear what you had to say recently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JILLETTE: Bug nutty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes
JILLETTE: All I want out of our politicians is for them to just say, "You now, a lot of the religious stuff I'm talking about is bug nutty, bat (EXPLETIVE DELETED) crazy, but I'm not." Because I don't think any of these men and women are crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Bug nutty, bat crazy. That's a bit more like it.
JILLETTE: Yes. Yes. Well, I -- I think that I -- I do disagree tremendously. But I'm saying you try to hold on -- you try to hold on to the fact that at least there's some passion and honesty. And I do like the fact -- and I'm grasping at straws here to find something good about Rick Santorum. But I do like the fact that he at least seems to be saying what he believes.
MORGAN: Well, see, I actually rather like Rick Santorum personally. I've met him a few times, met him a few times.
JILLETTE: I have.
MORGAN: I've met his family.
I think he is sincere about his religious beliefs. He's quite literal about them, and takes them to their extremities.
What I -- what I always find I think very divisive about these positions is when they try and say, "I'm more for freedom. I don't want the government interfering in your life. I want you to have freedom."
But at the same time, driven by their religious beliefs, they don't want gay marriage. They think homosexuality is a sin. They don't want abortion. They don't want it -- and they go through the whole list of things which actually dent people's freedom.
JILLETTE: You know, I --
MORGAN: You can't have it both ways.
JILLETTE: I don't want to bring up a horrible fight between our countries. But the idea of the United States when it was brought up was to separate church and state, to separate these issues thinking that more freedom would allow people to do more things.
I think that Rick Santorum should be allowed to be as anti-sex and as pro-God as he wants. It's just trying to get the power over other people that's wrong.
MORGAN: He said, and I'm sure he regrets this now. But he said that it made him want to throw up reading JFK's speech about separation of church and state -- even though I don't think that's what JFK was saying. I mean, if you actually read the speech, he was saying, I won't take my orders from the Vatican.
JILLETTE: He was trying -- well, it's very hard to be elected as a Catholic.
JILLETTE: Especially at that time, because you can read Catholic dogma to say that he should listen to the Pope more than to the people. And he had to make that very clear in order to be elected. And I think he's speaking specifically about, as you said, getting his orders from the Vatican.
MORGAN: Are there elements of a religious conviction which you think could be helpful to somebody as a political leader?
JILLETTE: You have to have the passion for freedom greater than the passion for you know what's right. And that's difficult. I mean, Rick Santorum -- I believe from reading the Bible and looking at Catholicism -- believes that there is an everlasting life possible, and believes that the way to that everlasting life is Jesus Christ.
It's very hard when someone believes that, but then tell him to let me go to hell. I mean, that's what I'm asking him. I'm asking Rick Santorum to let me go to hell.
MORGAN: Let's hold -- let's hold it with the idea of you going to hell, because I quite like that thought. We'll come back after the break.
JILLETTE: That was uncalled for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JILLETTE: Can I join you here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you may.
JILLETTE: OK. You know, I'm doing this show called "Celebrity Apprentice."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
JILLETTE: You probably heard that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
JILLETTE: The task was to put on a show in Medieval Times. I won that challenge. So I've got some money here for Opportunity Village, $20,000. This one from Medieval Times, $20,000. Here you go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That's Penn Jillette in the new season of NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice." He's back with me now.
We'll come to that a little later, because obviously I took part on it.
MORGAN: I've won it, obviously.
MORGAN: Take on 13 Americans and destroyed them. But we'll come to that a bit later.
Let's just pick up on a running theme I've had on the show for a while now -- keeping America great, because it seems to me there's a lot of negativity in America right now, quite rightly for many reasons.
But the better way for America to go now is to collectively put all this brain power together and think, how do we keep this country where it should be, a great country?
JILLETTE: I think that I always go with individualism. I always think that it's the nuts. It's the individuals who are passionate, and allowing all of us to allow each of us to do as much as we can.
I think that sometimes we think that the only way great things are accomplished are collectively. And I think it's really quite the opposite. I think we want individuals to be able to just really kick it out.
MORGAN: What has gone wrong with the American Dream?
JILLETTE: You know, I don't know. I think it may be thinking that the government can fix everything, because some things the governments can't fix. I mean, there may be should not have been bailouts. Maybe we should not have given a lot of money to bankers and people who screwed up.
I mean, maybe we should have taken the fall for the mistakes that were made, and let those people fail.
MORGAN: But it's a fine line, isn't it, because a lot of people I think were personally irresponsible with their money -- JILLETTE: Yes, yes.
MORGAN: -- with their money. Having said that, there's others were educated about what was going on as many of the people who got away scot-free with what was happening.
JILLETTE: Well, not only -- they didn't just get away scot-free. They were also given money by the government. You know, that "too big to fail" thing -- speaking as someone who is 300 pounds and six-foot- seven, I don't think you should be too big to fail.
I think that we have to embrace failure of things that go wrong. We can't expect to retroactively fix stupidity.
MORGAN: But it's hard. This bail out thing is complicated, because --
MORGAN: -- you cannot look at the auto industry bail out and not conclude if you're rational that it's been successful.
JILLETTE: You -- certainly. Certainly.
They certainly have -- have kept that company afloat. But at what price? I mean, at what price morally? At what price philosophically?
I mean, the idea that we did perhaps save an industry. We don't really know what would have happened if they had gone through bankruptcy. I don't really understand all of that, and can't predict the future.
But at what price do we lose the simplicity of success and failure? I mean, the idea that you can fail and then have dues ex machina come in from the government and do all these machinations to fix things does hurt I think the psyche of America where if you do something and it works -- excuse me -- reward it. If you do something that doesn't work, you are not rewarded.
And I think that's a very big price to pay, even for all those jobs.
MORGAN: Let's move on to "Celebrity Apprentice" because --
MORGAN: -- you've emerged -- you're still alive, which is one benefit of doing it. It's a -- it's a tough show to do.
JILLETTE: It's nutty. It's just crazy. It's -- you know, Annie Duke who I believe --
JILLETTE: -- with all due respect to you, and present company excluded perhaps, the best who's ever played it.
MORGAN: Second best.
JILLETTE: Exactly. Yes, that's what I was saying.
She said it's a pretend show about pretend business where you get pretend fired. And the odd thing about it is and as a winner, you can't even tell me what the rules were. Even though you won, you don't know what the rules were.
MORGAN: No. Well, my rule was quite simple. I just read all of Donald Trumps books before I did it. And I then began speaking to him in Trump-isms.
So if I got really stuck in the board room, I would look at Donald Trump and say, "You know what? My strategy was: think big, kick ass."
MORGAN: On that bombshell, as always, a great pleasure.
JILLETTE: My pleasure.
MORGAN: Good to see you.
MORGAN: Penn Jillette.
When we come back, from stoner films to White House wonk, Kal Penn's Washington adventure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't feel like delivery tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about KFC?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, we've been there too many times. I want something we haven't had in a while, something different, something that will really hit the spot. I want the perfect food.
TV ANNOUNCER: Are you hungry? Then come to white castle and try our slider special.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: The stone hero from the popular Harold and Kumar films, Kal Penn's movies, gross $700 million worldwide, whether on the big screen or on TV's "House", Kal has made his mark in Hollywood. He's also left show business for a time to work at the White House. Impressive credits indeed.
And Kal Penn is here now.
So, Kal, what's more fun -- working with Hugh Laurie on "House," being in a hit movie, or running in the corridors of power with the president?
KAL PENN, ACTOR: Probably different kinds of fun, I would say. I also didn't know these movies grossed $700 million, so I need to have a talk with my agent after this. I need to see some of that.
No, you know, I love being creative, I love story telling.
Ever since I was a kid, I've also loved public service, so I feel fortunate that I've had the chance to balance those two the last few years.
MORGAN: If I held a metaphorical bullet to your head and you could only do one of these things the rest of your life -- movies, TV, politics?
PENN: I would get rid of TV and I would choose between movies and politics.
MORGAN: Which one is it going to be?
PENN: One is fact and one is fiction.
MORGAN: It's hypothetical.
PENN: I would probably go with the public service.
MORGAN: Would you?
PENN: Because you're helping real people with real substantive things.
MORGAN: Tell me about your time at the White House. You've been there twice since President Obama got elected and also worked for him on his last campaign and you're working on his new campaign, so you clearly know the president pretty well.
What's it been like in there to be at the center of things looking out with everybody else wondering what's going on in there?
PENN: It's been pretty remarkable. I mean, I had the honor of serving as his liaison to young Americans. So, the types of issues I was working on were actually pretty consistent across the board, whether you're a young person that skewed conservative or progressive, things like financial aid or "don't ask, don't tell" -- which also polls pretty consistently with young people.
So, seeing him fight for those things behind the scenes, you know, until things like that come up for a vote or the American opportunity tax credit -- you don't really se them in the news. So these are things that you work on with groups of young people from across the board. And to see the successes at the end of the day were really inspiring to me.
MORGAN: What would you say are the common misconceptions about the president?
PENN: Oh, gosh. I don't know. You know, I think it depends on whether you turn on -- where you're getting your news. I think the thing that a lot of folks are asking about is, you know, the pace of change and what it looks like and how -- the nice thing about a democracy is that there's a push and pull. And --
MORGAN: How much of the lack of pace of change or not quite what people thought he was going to be doing in terms of speed, how much of that do you think is down to a sudden realization when he got into power, the part that he (INAUDIBLE) past inherited financially was a lot worse than he thought and also the intransigence perhaps of some of the Republicans in dealing with him, and how much is down to new boy at the White House, slight difference (ph), or maybe second time around if he gets re-elected, you'd see a very different Barack Obama.
PENN: I think it's been pretty consistent. I think you're right. For the majority of the time he's been there, he's had an obstructionist Congress that hasn't allowed him to do the things that he wants to do. Despite that, he's managed to bring all these young kids home from Iraq, repeal "don't ask, don't tell," raise the Pell Grant and the American opportunity tax credit. We've had 23 months of positive job growth, so 3.7 million new private sector jobs were created.
So, the way that I look at it looking back is he has been pretty consistent and pretty vigorously so and we're all the better for it. Now, I would love to se that trend continue. I think as you sort of alluded to, his Republican counterparts want to dismantle everything, which I think would be a shame, particularly for all the young people.
MORGAN: I mean -- Newt Gingrich, he had a very good relationship when he was speaker of the House with President Clinton, and his argument is that Barack Obama hasn't been a very good negotiator. It's never been part of his resume, if you like, and that he needs to learn how to negotiate.
Do you accept that as a criticism?
PENN: No, I don't think so. I think if you -- if you look at sort of the way that change works, and the president had the honor of sitting in a meeting that he had with a bunch of young people in Boston and it was five Democrats, five Republicans and three independents. They were all college age.
And he said, you know, when you govern, you don't always get 100 percent of what you want. That there is a large ball that keeps pushing. Sometimes it rolls back down.
The point is when you talk to folks that disagree with you, that's when you're really going to get things done. And I think if you look at his track record, he's definitely had people at the table. And he's done his best to be a negotiator. MORGAN: What kind of guy is he when the door shuts?
PENN: The same. The same.
MORGAN: No one is ever the same.
PENN: Look, we're in L.A. right now, right? You've had your fair share of getting to meet politicians both at their campaign events and you see them behind the scenes and a lot of times they're completely different people.
MORGAN: That is true, that's why I was curious because --
PENN: He's not. There's no difference.
MORGAN: He seems to -- he resonates a certain calmness that's very impressive.
PENN: If you saw the video from the White House Correspondents Dinner last year, the president had signed the authorization to go after bin Laden.
MORGAN: Incredible. And he still had time to nail Donald Trump.
PENN: And he still -- right, exactly. He still, you know, held it together to deliver a really remarkable speech.
MORGAN: Let's take a little break and come back and talk about the Republican race --
MORGAN: -- which I would imagine you'd be slightly less generous towards, and also a bit of Hollywood talk. I also want to know what Hugh Laurie is like to work with.
MORGAN: I bet he's unbearable.
PENN: He's a great guy, come on.
MORGAN: Don't lie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAL PENN, CO-CHAIR OBAMA CAMPAIGN, ACTOR: He's not divisive. He's not a polarizing figure. He's a uniting figure. I think that's something we need after -- after the last eight years of what we've just endured. Not just that, but the last 20 years of two families controlling the White House.
I mean, you know, there are a lot of folks that have great ideas. But I think the reason we haven't seen any of those executed are because they're polarizing figures. And Barack has got fans in the Republican party and fans in the Democratic party. And it's sort of everyone in between like me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was Kal Penn in 2008 campaigning for Barack Obama. Four years later, he's still got the president's back. It's interesting. It's a good point you made there, before he even became president. I still don't think he's actually that divisive a president.
I don't get the sense people hate Barack Obama. Some people say bad things about him, but he's not as polarizing as someone like George Bush post-Iraq, for example. And that is something that can be to his advantage. I always say to people if you travel like I do around Europe a lot, for example, they really like him.
He has certainly massively helped America's reputation outside of America. The problem he's got is that only 25 percent of Americans ever travel outside of America. So they wouldn't even be aware of it.
PENN: The poll that came out, I think it was yesterday, from you guys, if I'm not mistaken, was that 40 of Republican voters are undecided who they're going to vote for in the November election, whether they're going to vote for the president or whoever the nominee is. So just in terms of a uniting figure and someone who sort of keeps his head straight and doesn't like to get into the vitriolic back and forth that distracts us from the real issues, I think that's --
MORGAN: Well his strategy of keeping his head down while the Republicans rip each other to pieces has been quite good I think.
PENN: I don't know if it's a strategy as much it just really is who he is. I mean, if you look back consistently, it's just he doesn't -- he likes to sort of tell it how it is and sit down and have a rational conversation, as opposed to getting into some sort of mud slinging.
MORGAN: When you work at the White House, and look at all these Republican candidates, what is the consensus? Is the consensus that they're all quite weak? Is there a preferred candidate, do you think? Who would you most like to come up against?
PENN: To me, all of the candidates are the same, just in terms of the policy.
MORGAN: All useless or all good.
PENN: Well, the lens that I look at it through is look at all these accomplishments the president has had for young people, right, college affordability. Two and a half million of them now have health insurance that didn't before.
And all of the Republican candidates want to roll back all of those achievements. So I -- one of the original things that got me involved in the president's campaign, I had a buddy who had to decide between getting eyeglasses to see the board in class or buying his textbooks. And I wouldn't want to see that happening.
And it just -- it's a shame that his counterparts want to roll back things like health care reform or Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal or things --
MORGAN: If you're a Republican, you're pointing to Barack Obama, you say, well, hang on, he's had a few -- he's a few ticks in the foreign office box, if you like. He got rid of bin Laden. He helped get rid of Gadhafi, brought the troops home from Iraq and so on. The auto bailout, the genesis was with George Bush, not Barack Obama, they would argue.
Obamacare is being perceived to be a failure. The economy is still pretty awful. Still got nearly nine percent unemployed. They're all squabbling away about religious and social issues, and not really focusing on what I would say are the vulnerable parts.
PENN: I don't know about that. I would say that the lens through which that would be looked at, I think they know that that's not necessarily true, right? If you're talking to -- when I was working at the White House and health care reform passed, we had young people who -- now that pre-existing conditions are no longer an issue, they can stay on their parents' plan until they're 26.
They have friends and family that can now actually have access to health insurance.
MORGAN: I agree with you. I come from a country where we have free health care. The fact that he can put 30 million more people into a health care program and get slaughtered for it was baffling to me. But the reality is he lost the PR war on Obamacare. And it's being perceived to be a failure, which baffles me, but it has.
PENN: The folks who I've spoken to -- and maybe this is just the youth divide, the under 35 crowd -- I don't think perceives it as a failure. I think that's sort of the difference, right? The older folks, if you will, are sort of back and forth over the concept of something having failed or something being miserable, as opposed to young folks who are incredibly innovative.
They're starting their own companies. They're bouncing back as the economy is. They can afford more of college now. They can stay on their parents' health insurance plan. Their friends are coming home from Iraq.
That's -- those are the folks who I'm talking to and that's sort of the lens through which I've been looking at this. And the other side just doesn't seem to be offering any solutions to that.
MORGAN: Much more worrying to me is the end of "House," one of my favorite series ever.
PENN: It was an awesome show to have a chance to work on.
MORGAN: Starring the best Brit playing an American accent I've ever heard.
MORGAN: He sounds like one of you guys.
MORGAN: Hugh Laurie always in interviews -- I've joked with him about this -- sounds unbelievably miserable. For a guy earning 400 grand an episode, the highest paid guy on American television, all he ever does is moan. I've got to work to hard, I've got to live in Hollywood. Never stops whining.
PENN: I think that's a schtick. I think he loves his job. We all loved working on the show. I was on for about two years and really enjoyed him. He's somebody who I really admire him career- wise. He started out doing comedy, as I had a chance to, and then segued so brilliantly to playing this incredible dramatic character. I would love to sort of follow in those footsteps.
MORGAN: I do think it's a scandal he's never won an Emmy.
PENN: I would agree with you. But I'm biased.
MORGAN: Every year he gets nominated and every year he doesn't win. What more has a guy got to do? It's one of the greatest character roles I've ever seen on American television.
PENN: I agree, both spoken and unspoken, the work that he's put in to actually building this character is incredible. Hopefully this year. We'll see.
MORGAN: I'm going to campaign. An Emmy for Hugh Laurie. Tell me about your new comedy series.
PENN: Sure. It's called "Prairie Dogs." It's a pilot that we're doing with the ABC Network. The folks that developed "That '70s Show" and created are behind it. I'm really excited just to kind of dive back into a series and see how it goes. The dirty secret with the pilots is that they shoot quite a few of them and then they pick up only a handful.
MORGAN: You're busy because you're doing this. You're doing a master's at Stanford. You're also co-chairing the Obama campaign with one of my old friends, Eva Longoria. You're a busy guy, aren't you?
PENN: I try to keep busy. I enjoy it. I feel really blessed that I have the chance to do al those things. And I would love to continue it.
MORGAN: Kal, it's been a real pleasure. Nice to meet you. PENN: Same here.
MORGAN: Coming up next, another Hollywood name with a very different take on the issues, former child star Kirk Cameron.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRK CAMERON, ACTOR: As I look around, I get this sinking feeling that we're off track, that there's something sick in the soul of our country. I examine the fruit that's hanging on the tree of America, and I can see that it's rotting. And that concerns me deeply.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Kirk Cameron at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month. Millions grew up watching you on "Growing Pains" as the wise cracking, lovable Mike Sever. Former atheist, he's now a born again Christian, passionate about faith, politics and his country.
Kirk Cameron joins me now. Strong words there, you know, the apple -- the fruit tree analogy, the fact there's something rotten at the core of America. What is rotten, do you think?
CAMERON: Well, I have a -- I'm a father of six children. So I'm not speaking primarily as a politician or even as an actor. I'm just concerned about the world that my kids are walking into and growing up to live in. So I look around, and economically we're terribly deep in debt, over 15 trillion dollars. Understanding what happens to a nation at that point in their economic downfall and the probability of being able to pull up out of that.
And then spiritually, our motto in this country, "in God we trust," is something that's printed on our money. Yet we're almost nervous as school teachers and as businessmen to say that in public places, for fear that we're breaking the law when we do so.
Morally, things that used to be unheard of or just shied away from are now normal. And things you see at the local mall or the public school are things that we don't want to be teaching to our kids. And yet they're celebrated.
MORGAN: Like what?
CAMERON: Oh, like what? I mean we could go through a whole host of things. But just immorality in general. I turn on television and you see everything from, you know, sexual immorality to vulgarity and promiscuity and all things that to me as a dad, I want to be teaching the opposite to my kids.
I want them to love and honor God. And I want them to love their neighbor. I want them to serve their community. I want them to have healthy families. I want them to love this country. MORGAN: Who do you blame for this? Many people outside of America think there's too much attention to religious issues in this country. And it causes a lot of the division in the country.
CAMERON: The interesting thing is what motivated me to make this documentary that I've made, "Monumental," is that I'm turning on the news watching you. I'm watching everyone else, Fox and CNN and Glenn Beck and the whole host of others, to try to give me a clear picture of what the problem is, to know as a father what to teach my children.
MORGAN: If I asked you, for example, what your view of gay marriage is, what would you say?
CAMERON: Go ahead and ask me.
MORGAN: What is your view of gay marriage?
CAMERON: I feel like I just got imported into the Christine O'Donnell interview you did back in August.
MORGAN: She wouldn't talk about stuff in her own book.
CAMERON: I know, I know.
MORGAN: I'm just saying these issues are interesting to me about what you would tell your kids, who you're trying to protect, for example.
MORGAN: Would you tell them that gay marriage is a sin?
CAMERON: I would tell my children, as -- I tell them what I believe myself. And dealing with these social issues, whether it's abortion or gay marriage --
MORGAN: What do you believe?
CAMERON: I believe that marriage was defined by God a long time ago. Marriage is almost as old as dirt. And it was defined in the Garden between Adam and Eve, one man, one woman, for life, till death do you part. So I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage. I don't think anyone else should either. So do I support the idea of gay marriage? No, I don't.
MORGAN: Do you think homosexuality is a sin?
CAMERON: I think that it's -- it's unnatural. I think that it's -- it's detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.
MORGAN: What do you do if one of your six kids says, dad, bad news, I'm gay.
CAMERON: I'd sit down and have a heart to heart with them just like you would with your kids. MORGAN: If one of my sons said that, I'd say that's great, son. As long as you're happy. What would you say?
MORGAN: Well, I wouldn't say that's great, son, as long as you're happy. I'm going to say, you know, there's all sorts of issues that we need to wrestle through in our life. Just because you feel one way doesn't mean we should act on everything that we feel.
MORGAN: And yet some people would say that telling kids that being gay is a sin or getting married is a sin or whatever, that in itself is incredibly destructive and damaging in a country where seven states now have legalized it.
CAMERON: Yes, but you have to also understand that you yourself are using a standard of morality to say that telling people such and such of a behavior is sinful. You're using a standard of morality to make that statement and say that that is terribly destructive. So everyone is going to have a standard against which they --
MORGAN: No, no, no, listen, listen. I'm not an American. I'm making the point that seven states in America have now legalized gay marriage.
CAMERON: Well, Piers, you're speaking to a man who's a Christian and I believe that all of us are sinful. I could stand at the top of the list and say that I need a savior and I need an overhaul of the heart more than anyone.
And so that's what I teach my kids. I teach them the values that I hold dear. I treasure the God that loves me and forgives me of my sin. I would teach that to my children, as well as having a wonderful relationship with them that my wife and I work on every single day.
So your value system, my value system, we're all going to pick a standard against which we judge behavior morally. All of our laws ultimately, at their core, are going to be based on a moral evaluation.
MORGAN: So what's your view of abortion?
CAMERON: I think that it's wrong.
MORGAN: Under any circumstances?
CAMERON: Under any circumstances.
MORGAN: Even rape and incest?
CAMERON: I think someone who is ultimately willing to murder a child, even to fix another tragic end, a devastating situation like rape or incest or things like that, is not taking the moral high road. I think that we're compounding the problem by also murdering a little child.
MORGAN: Could you honestly look a daughter in the eye if she was raped and say you have got to have that child? CAMERON: Yes, and I will help you.
MORGAN: You would do that?
CAMERON: Yes, of course.
MORGAN: I find that amazing that people would say that.
CAMERON: Because I love my daughter. I love that little child. This is a little creature made in God's image. Perhaps -- imagine if you were the result of that and you had been aborted. We wouldn't be here having this conversation. So I value life above all things.
MORGAN: Your documentary is out on March 27th, "Monumental." Lets just take a little look at it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the founding fathers and Congress printed the first Bible in English and they did for the use in schools. I didn't think they wanted the Bible in schools.
That's what we hear. That's what we've told. The Bible was put in schools back 1647, first public school law, which kept in schools until 1963 when the court said yes, we have done it 320 years, let's do something different.
Now we're told the founding fathers never wanted the Bible in schools. That's one piece of history right there proves exactly opposite.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Right there -- again, right at the forefront of the documentary, religious issue. That's why --
CAMERON: It's a actually at the end of the documentary, not at the forefront.
MORGAN: Right, but it's in the documentary. It's indicative I guess that you have these strong believes and they drive a lot of your thinking about this.
CAMERON: Well, again, I think that these are one of the freedoms that I'm concerned that we're losing that we want to hang on to. It's so precious, is the freedom of religious, the freedom to worship got according to your own conscience, not have the government tell you who you worship and what you're going to worship.
That's our forefathers came out of in your country. So that's what intrigued me about them. I wanted to understand, where do we get these freedoms from. If the government gives them to us, they can take them away. But if they're given to us by God, they cannot be taken away.
MORGAN: When you talk about freedom, a lot of what we talked about before is about stopping people having freedom, isn't it? About stopping them getting married, if they're gay. It's about stopping them having an abortion, if they get raped. That's not freedom. That is stopping people have the right to do things they want to do.
CAMERON: Well, it's a bit of a double standard because you have to understand that there are those of us who hold values very dear and pressure precious to us --
MORGAN: Freedom is fine as long as we subscribe to your values.
CAMERON: Or your values.
MORGAN: It can't be both, because we have different values.
CAMERON: That's right, precisely.
MORGAN: Whose do you take?
CAMERON: I take my values. You take your values. What I'm interested in, with my documentary, is to reveal the fact that the things that we have come to love in our country were ultimately produced by a certain root. And I want to know what that is.
MORGAN: OK. Kirk Cameron, the documentary "Monumental" is on a March 27th release. It's been a pleasure. Nice to meet you.
CAMERON: Thank you. good to meet you.
MORGAN: Coming up next, Only in America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
: I grew up diving in the Florida Keys. And it was just the most magical place. The coral reefs were so pretty. And I decided that's what I wanted to do for a living, is dive on coral reefs. In an area where there's live coral, there's always more fish.
Reefs provide protection for the coastal areas and recreational opportunities for millions of people. I was diving for 40 years. Over time, I saw the coral reefs start to die. Coral reefs worldwide are in decline. If coral reefs died completely, coastal communities would be bankrupt; tourism would be virtually gone; a billion people in the world would be impacted.
I started thinking, how can we fix the problem.
KEN NEDIMEYER, CNN HERO: My name is Ken Nedimeyer. I grow, protect and restore coral reefs.
GARY YOSS, CNN HERO: We've developed a system that is simple and something we can train others to do.
NEDIMEYER: We start with a piece of coral this big and we hang it onto trees. After about a year or two, it becomes this big. Then we cut the branches off and we do it again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ken's coral nursery is one of the largest in the wider Caribbean. It's 10 times larger than the others that are in existence.
NEDIMEYER: In 2003, we originally planted six corals here. Now there's over 3,000 growing in this area alone.
YOSS: Before I felt helpless watching it die. Now I think there's hope. It's not too late. Everybody can help. I see all of those corals and all of those fish. It's like this whole reef is coming back to life, and making a difference is exciting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Tonight's Only in America returns to where this show started, a woman's right to not be called a slut and a prostitute for wanting to use birth control. Isn't it amazing I even had to say that phrase? Isn't it even more amazing that the man who said it first and actually meant it is still tonight on the airwaves?
Rush Limbaugh has been shocking America for decades with his right rhetoric. He prides himself on being outrageous and that's fine. It's a free country. But when the desire to offend strays into calling smart, young, responsible female students sluts and prostitutes. I have a big problem. Mr. Limbaugh. And so thankfully do many others, including advertisers on his show, who are fleeing in droves tonight.
His target, third year law student Sandra Fluke, simply wanted the right to have contraception on her health insurance plan. She was acting responsibly, sensibly and from financial necessity.
Most students in modern America pay a crippling fortune for their education. We ought to have a decent debate over who pays for contraception, and weigh it against the cost of unwanted pregnancy. For Ms. Fluke to be branded a slut and a prostitute for expressing a woman's right to have sex and use birth control is, as President Obama's spokesman rightly said today, reprehensible.
I go further than that. Limbaugh's disgusting comments are the work of an archaic old dinosaur living in a warped, ugly swamp, who thinks it's OK to degrade decent young women for sport and ratings.
Well, it isn't it. Shame on you, Rush Limbaugh. You owe Ms. Fluke a heart felt, groveling apology. I suggest you do it now.
That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.