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Honest Questions with William Shatner
Aired May 16, 2008 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GLENN BECK, HOST (voice-over): William Shatner. He beamed into America`s lives and TVs as Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.
WILLIAM SHATNER, ACTOR: Kirk to bridge, do you read me? Come in.
BECK: In a career spanning 50 years, this pop culture icon has done it all, but today he may just best be known for being himself.
SHATNER: I think we need to go make a film, guys.
BECK: With a new biography "Up Till Now." It chronicles his life, his career.
SHATNER: She`s wicked. I love it.
BECK: But this is no ordinary hour. He`s got some things to say to me, and his phaser is not set on stun.
SHATNER: Let`s go!
BECK: Fun, frank, he watches this program, so he`s going to be very outspoken. You`re not going to see him like this anywhere else. William Shatner joins me now for a full hour.
BECK: Joining me now, actor, director, producer, recording artist, author, artist. What kind of art do you do? William Shatner, by the way. What kind of art do you do?
BECK: Life? And he`s now author. His autobiography is out, "Up Until Now." It`s out in the book stores. And I want to start here. I found this fantastic.
I have always had a love affair with America. I have believed completely in the American myth. You -- you are Canadian. Growing up, what was the American myth? What was it that you saw from afar?
SHATNER: The thing: total freedom, everybody has the -- to as much as -- as hard as you wanted to work, that`s how high you could rise.
BECK: You didn`t think you had that in Canada, because I mean, Canada is just kind of like a crappy state. I mean, no offense...
SHATNER: Canada is a crappy state? No, never was.
BECK: Kind of like Massachusetts.
SHATNER: No, no, never was. Canada is reticent, laid back. People come down here to sell a movie, and they`d ask the secretary what -- they`d knock on the door of the producer...
SHATNER: ... to whom they should speak and be speaking to the secretary for the longest time. That was always a joke. "He was pitching me. I don`t know why. I was going to lead him into the office."
SHATNER: That`s Canada. It was sort of polite and taking a step back. But, you know, the fighting machine of Canada has always been illustrious.
BECK: It just doesn`t seem like it`s that different. But as a kid, you saw America across the border and thought there`s more opportunity?
SHATNER: See, one of the first things I did when I was 19 was -- or 18. I was going into -- going to university, about to enter into university in Montreal, to McGill. And a friend of mine and myself took two signs, "Two menial (ph) students." It was like those old Burma shave ads, "Two menial (ph) students" and I would carry the second sign, "seeing the U.S."
And we thumbed across U.S. for three months, lived on a dollar a day, lived in cars. Went from Montreal to Washington, D.C., across to San Francisco, down to San Diego, up to Vancouver, crossed through Chicago and back to -- all in three months. We saw the United States.
BECK: And you -- and you write in the book -- and I think you`re serious -- that you took a canoe...
SHATNER: Another trip.
SHATNER: So I`m at a camp, a welfare camp, being a counselor, young counselor. And the head of the camp says, "I`m going to take a war canoe and paddle up the Saint Lawrence to the Richelieu, down the Richelieu to Lake Champlain, down Lake Champlain to the headwaters of the river, of the...
BECK: The Hudson.
SHATNER: The Hudson, and make it all the way down to the Hudson to the 72nd Street Marina, which we did. We were on television when I was 16 or 17.
BECK: And then -- and then how did you get here to -- because then you started...
SHATNER: Then I was at a company, a classical company at Stratford, Ontario. And they decided to take a play down by Marlo (ph) called "Tambourlane (ph)." And I was a member of the company and we played the Winter Gardens for several weeks.
BECK: But you were -- you were really good on stage. You were an accomplished actor.
SHATNER: I was a -- I had been at it all my life.
BECK: Right. And then how did you get from there to -- cause you hooked up with Alfred Hitchcock.
SHATNER: I used my thumb. I drove. I just -- one thing led to another professionally.
BECK: Do you like the -- do you like the stage, TV, movies? Which is better?
SHATNER: It`s all grand. It`s all grand. You know, I don`t know what people mean by, "I must have the stage" or "I only do television."
SHATNER: You`re an actor, and you bring certain truths to the performance. And you have to extend it a little beyond the footlights to reach somebody in the first or the last row. And on television, your focus is about down here, you know. So it`s all...
BECK: You know, you`re known for -- in "Star Trek," you`re known for overacting.
SHATNER: What does that mean?
BECK: I don`t know, but...
SHATNER: No, no, no. See, what do you mean you don`t know? You`re Glenn Beck. You know everything.
BECK: Oh, sure, I know. You watch the show.
SHATNER: Right. Or have pretended -- what -- what do you mean by that? What does that mean to you?
BECK: When you`re fighting a giant lava rock (ph)...
SHATNER: The lizard.
BECK: That says "er, er."
SHATNER: Yes. So, what are you going to do? "Well, there`s a lizard." No, "there`s a lizard for God`s sakes." Right. You get it?
BECK: No, no. I know. I know.
SHATNER: I mean, you`ve got to -- so, what does that mean?
BECK: I mean, OK. I mean, if you want to go here...
SHATNER: Don`t back down now.
BECK: No, no. If you want to go here, I`m a "Star Trek" fan.
BECK: But it`s hokey. You know it and I know it. It`s a lizard man.
SHATNER: It was a lizard.
BECK: Got it.
SHATNER: But everything`s hokey.
BECK: No, no.
SHATNER: Your show is hokey. You get mad about this -- it`s true. Right?
SHATNER: Your cameraman are laughing. They`re laughing out of knowledge. What happened? There`s a hokey thing. It`s a lizard. There`s a lizard. There`s a rock coming my way.
BECK: But that`s not a rock. It`s not a rock.
SHATNER: It`s called suspension of disbelief.
BECK: And I`ve had to suspend a lot of it.
SHATNER: That`s what I mean.
BECK: Look at this. I remember watching this show with my father! I loved it. I`m a fan of yours.
SHATNER: You and your father loved it. What does that mean, overacting?
BECK: OK. Now, I`m watching you on "Boston Legal," first time I...
BECK: I didn`t know anything about "Boston Legal."
BECK: And I`m sitting there and I`m watching it. And my wife comes in. And you`re on the screen. And she said, "What the hell are you watching?" I said -- no offense.
SHATNER: No, no, I`m not taking any offense.
BECK: I said, "It`s William Shatner, and he`s brilliant." I mean --
SHATNER: Now I`m taking offense. Now that you`ve completed the sentence.
BECK: No, but, I mean, you are really, really good. And...
SHATNER: Thank you.
BECK: And I know Alfred Hitchcock said this to you, you know, back in the `60s. But, hey, "You`ve got a career."
SHATNER: My book -- my book is all about the people who said that.
SHATNER: You know. It`s -- the book is the story of -- somebody said the other day and I loved it, saying yes to life. Rather than the knocks and finally getting beaten down by experiences and life. Life takes the life out of you sooner or later. The people who can journey to the end, still with the volatility that they had as a kid, I think, have -- have the best life.
BECK: I don`t think you learn that in this book. I think you learn that it`s not the volatility that you had as a kid or the vitality that you had as a kid. I think you`re growing in speed. Don`t you think?
SHATNER: I hope so. I hope so.
BECK: That`s not -- that`s unusual.
SHATNER: To grow?
BECK: No. To pick up steam as you`re going. Most people, like you said, life takes life out of you. I mean, you`re -- do you feel like you`re growing in steam?
SHATNER: Always. In steam, yes. In passion. In the engine going. The piston`s pushing, absolutely.
BECK: See, that was a little overacting.
SHATNER: No, no, no. This was a cylinder head. Listen to this. Here`s the cylinder. Here`s the piston head.
BECK: I see.
SHATNER: And if I went -- and it`s going and it`s not gaining, but if it`s going, then you`re like, "I see what he`s talking about."
BECK: I`m just helping you. I`m just helping you.
SHATNER: I`m just explaining that you push it to the limit.
SHATNER: Now, yes, you don`t know where the limit is, both in the little small box or in your sensibility. Where is that limit?
SHATNER: So this might have been enough for you to get the idea. But if you do this truthfully, it even suggests more. Now, you may say that`s overacting, but I get it. Well, if you get it, then maybe the next guy gets it.
BECK: This is going to be a fun hour. Back with William Shatner in just a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHATNER: All right, Spock, it stopped.
LEONARD NIMOY, ACTOR: No, it hasn`t stopped. It`s gone beyond...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Stepping in to eating. Yay, brother.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: Back with actor William Shatner for a full hour. And you know what -- I have a feeling this is one of those interviews where I`ve got all kinds of notes and questions, but I have a feeling it`s going to fall apart here, because I`ve got a problem with his show, and he apparently has a problem with my show. We were talking in the break.
SHATNER: It`s not a problem.
SHATNER: It`s life changing, actually. It`s life altering.
SHATNER: Well, you know, I watch you fairly consistently.
SHATNER: Sort of like watching a fireplace, I suppose, or an 8.7 trembler of a building coming down. You think, "Wow, look at that."
BECK: You never know.
SHATNER: But I suppose you`re known for "the sky is falling, the sky is falling."
BECK: You`re saying Chicken Little.
SHATNER: Yes. Chicken Little. But -- but I thought KFC might have a problem with that.
BECK: Sure. Bucket of chicken would be good.
SHATNER: Right. I`m somewhat -- I`m somewhat buying into this -- not buying into this. I`m very much aware. I read Rachel Carlson 40 years ago.
BECK: Sure. OK.
SHATNER: And subscribed to Rachel Carlson`s "The Silent Spring." It was happening then.
SHATNER: People became aware of the disintegration of the world a decade ago. Like everybody is smoking and then one day smoking is bad for you. Suddenly nobody was smoking.
SHATNER: But it was a decade, as well, ago, before everybody started to realize that even second-hand smoke -- now outdoor second-hand smoke, and everything is falling part on the smoke thing.
SHATNER: I buy that the world is falling apart.
SHATNER: In every -- in every way. The main cause of it is overpopulation. Not the main. The cause of the world`s destruction is there are too many people.
BECK: No, I think there are too many stupid people.
SHATNER: No. There are too many stupid and intelligent people. They`re so close together you can`t tell them apart.
SHATNER: All right? They`re pressed together, defecating into the ocean, and it`s all -- it`s just too much. The planet can`t take it.
BECK: I`ve never -- defecate -- I don`t know anybody that`s defecated in the ocean.
SHATNER: Everybody defecates into the ocean. You defecate here, it goes into the ocean.
BECK: Oh, well, that`s New York. Anyway, go ahead.
SHATNER: Also -- every -- everything ends up in the ocean, OK.
BECK: OK. Right. Remind me not to go have seafood now.
SHATNER: No. Exactly.
SHATNER: You`re -- you`re trembling on the edge of toxic food and toxic air and toxic water all the time.
BECK: Sure. Got it.
SHATNER: We`re trying to find ways to avoid that all the time.
BECK: See, now you`re scaring me. You`re calling me Chicken Little?
SHATNER: No. I`m saying I subscribe to that.
SHATNER: And I`m -- I`m in the area of losing faith that there`s anything we can do about it, because people continue to propagate.
SHATNER: And so where 6 billion becomes -- you know, we`re going to reach 7 billion.
SHATNER: And the more there are, even though you lessen the number, the more they get.
BECK: It`s like a Harvard endowment.
SHATNER: Yes, compound interest.
SHATNER: And so here we are. But -- but where you should be rational.
SHATNER: Because you`re talking to people all over the United States...
BECK: I want you to know, America, I have never made you the promise I was going to be rational. Not once. Not to you. Not to him.
SHATNER: But you`ve got a responsibility. Now, you were saying, things are going to happen in this country, the financial thing is going to make your hair curl. You`re going to -- you don`t know! I know, but I can`t tell you how bad -- this is what you were saying -- how bad it`s going to be.
BECK: Oh, yes, I still believe it.
SHATNER: Well, we seem to be coming out of it.
BECK: Yes, yes. First of all, I said, if you -- because I can point you to the transcripts. If you want to know what I actually said, I said, if there`s significant downward pressure that the -- that everything is so precarious right now, that if there was sudden significant downward pressure, that it would collapse.
Now, have we gotten through it? I think we have. I think our Bear Stearns moment was the moment.
BECK: Now you`ve got the added pressure of gas going up and what`s going to happen there? How does it not cycle through? But I don`t know. I think our moment was the Bear Stearns.
SHATNER: But -- OK, I agree with you.
SHATNER: But where you should be, it seems to me...
SHATNER: ... pointing us, with the millions of people who watch you, is, the government just said that it`s going to be 35 miles a gallon in 2020.
SHATNER: That`s 12 years from now.
SHATNER: What? It`s not going to happen. No, of course it`s going to happen.
BECK: It`s not going to happen.
SHATNER: Not only is it going to happen, it will be 50 miles a gallon in five years. I mean, how dare they say in 12 years we`re going to gain seven or eight miles per gallon when oil is reaching $125 a barrel?
BECK: Oh, no, wait a minute, wait a minute, hang on just a second. Are you talking about capitalists making it happen or the government making it happen? Because I believe people, I believe America -- I still -- I still...
SHATNER: Who cares who makes it up? The Israelis recently have said they`ve got a new car that`s going to transform transportation.
BECK: We`re following a guy right now who`s got a car -- he says it`s coming out next year -- that runs on air, compressed air.
SHATNER: I don`t know about that. I saw -- a guy showed me an engine, he poured Coca-Cola into it, and it ran on Coca-Cola. I don`t know about that. All I do know is that it is well within the technology of today to get 75 miles a gallon. Why is the government legislating 35 miles a gallon 12 years from now when we`re in a crisis now?
BECK: You tell me.
SHATNER: No, no. No, no, you`re the one who`s telling us. I`m asking, you why aren`t you saying, "Are you crazy? Twelve years and seven gallons -- seven miles per gallon?"
BECK: Because I`m on the air every day saying government is selling you down the river every step of the way, every step of the way! This government is selling us -- both the Democrats and the Republicans have no frickin` clue what`s going on.
SHATNER: That`s why I watch you. That`s exactly why.
BECK: Yes, but I`m saying that every day. And you think I`m crazy.
SHATNER: No. You`re like a crazy prophet. The world is ending, the world is ending and then the world ends. Golly! If I don`t...
BECK: I mean, I`m just saying you should bury your guns, your gold and your food in your backyard. That`s all I`m saying.
SHATNER: And your car.
One of the answers is awareness of the -- how little resources we have left, including life forms that are dying off so rapidly.
BECK: We`ve talked about it all week, about, you know -- because people are hammering me, because I`m saying drill for oil. But I`m also saying put -- put nuclear energy on to the table.
SHATNER: Don`t go to -- don`t go to Alaska and ruin another place.
BECK: You don`t have to ruin it, Bill. You know that.
SHATNER: But it`s always ruined. We`re human beings. A drunken cat that drives it into Iraq.
BECK: But, see, that`s the problem. We don`t have to drive -- by the way, that`s oil that`s coming from a foreign country. We don`t have to be drunk, and we don`t have to be irresponsible. We can go...
SHATNER: We`re human beings. We`re prone to those mistakes. We`re prone -- you have to allow for stupidity in every business.
BECK: Yes. But you also -- if you say we`re prone to mistakes, you also have to say, we also can learn from our mistakes.
SHATNER: We know that you need a double-hulled boat, if that`s the -- we`re talking about this particular problem.
SHATNER: You know you knew -- up there, with the currents and the winds.
SHATNER: You know that a double-hulled boat is necessary. And being drunk on duty can`t be when you`re going, "Whoa, look at this, you know. There`s a wave! And I`m drunk!" You can`t do that.
BECK: He`s the best. Back with William Shatner in just a second.
SHATNER: Not passive at all. Very aggressive.
BECK: We`re back with William Shatner. I`m sorry, I just said to him, I said, "You`re very passive/aggressive."
And he said, "No, no, just aggressive. Just aggressive."
Welcome back. You know what? We were talking in the commercial break here for a second, and I said, "You know what? Everybody can ask you the `Star Trek` questions. I`m fascinated by what we`ve been talking about here recently. You know, just in the last break, about where we`re headed as a people and as a planet and as a country and everything else."
SHATNER: Glenn, this country, because we started early on about my admiring and I was watching cross the border at the -- at the -- what`s his name? "I`ve got a communist in my pocket"...
BECK: I was going to say Charlie McCarthy. But McCarthy.
SHATNER: McCarthy, yes. I remember watching the McCarthy hearings and thinking, wow, gosh, the government is riddled with communists, going to eat us up. And then it turned out to be, it`s a terrible man.
But the country reared up. Good men reared up and said, no, and took control finally. Of course! It`s America! That`s what America does.
BECK: We, the people.
SHATNER: We, the people. Need a crisis, democracy needs a crisis. Otherwise you`re maybe we should, maybe we shouldn`t, let`s argue about it until there`s no way out! And, boom, the American people and the -- and what we`ve -- and I say we because Canada is so much a part of the United States. It`s such a mutual culture, really.
SHATNER: That we`ve engendered this takeover, find a solution and do it, and do it well and do it kindly. But we now need an individual to sweep away all the things that America has been doing for all these years without a crisis.
We need election reform. We need -- we need true elections. We need people not influencing the government with special needs. We need an environmental policy. We need an immigration policy. We need the war policy. We need people who can make decisions...
BECK: You know, Bill, there`s -- there`s -- I think -- I don`t know what your politics are. I don`t want to know your politics because -- I mean, you tell me if you want to. But I think that the left and the right and the liberals and the conservatives and the Republicans -- I think all that`s bull crap.
SHATNER: I agree.
BECK: I think people watch -- sitting at home, and they watch television they go, "What the hell? It`s not that hard. It`s not that hard to figure this out."
SHATNER: No, it`s not hard for the guys elected either. But what those guys elected are trying to do is, how do I keep my job and make a reform?
SHATNER: Well, I`d rather keep my job than make a reform.
SHATNER: I`ll let the next guy, 20 years from now, do the reform.
SHATNER: And everybody does that.
SHATNER: We need -- we need the population to say we need a Democratic revolution, and let`s get back to the basics of the Constitution.
BECK: I think it`s going to happen.
SHATNER: I think so, too. I think that if you realize -- you`ve got children?
BECK: Yes, I`ve got four.
SHATNER: OK. Your four children, not you...
BECK: Part of the overpopulation.
SHATNER: No, yes. But your four children are going to be in dire straits in 25 years.
BECK: Yes, I know that.
SHATNER: I mean, really bad.
BECK: Who`s the scare...
BECK: Who`s the scare-monger? Who`s the chicken -- hang on, zip. We`re taking a brick. We`ll be back. We`ll find out which one is the scare-monger, the fear monger right here. Right here.
BECK: Let me -- let me -- let me -- let me switch gears here., Mr. Fear- Monger.
SHATNER: Fearful father.
BECK: No. You know what? We were just talking in the break.
SHATNER: Fearful citizen.
BECK: We were talking in the break. I think you and I, we may disagree on issues, but we both see the same outcome.
SHATNER: Well, here`s the -- here`s the problem.
SHATNER: Here`s the thing, as far as I see it. And I discuss a little bit about it...
BECK: In the new book.
SHATNER: ... in the new book.
BECK: What`s the name of that book?
SHATNER: "Up Till Now."
BECK: Get out of here. Available everywhere?
SHATNER: No. I wouldn`t lie to you. On sale starting...
SHATNER: The premise -- my premise is this: nobody knows anything. We don`t know anything.
Oh, sure, two and two is four. But not necessarily. And when it gets to theoretical things like, what`s the best policy about X, nobody really knows.
SHATNER: We`re all guessing. But we know that what you`re doing now isn`t working. So let`s try something else. Your solution may be just as good as mine, as long as it`s not following exactly what we`re doing now, because what we`re doing now is not working.
SHATNER: In any phase of anything, it`s not working. Go to something else.
I don`t know -- I don`t think anybody has a lock on what to do. I mean, nobody really knows. But at least reformation and clean air and reasonable thinking -- here`s how I see an issue. Oh, well, here`s how I see an issue. Let`s put it to a vote and make it clean.
BECK: But you can`t -- you can`t have -- you know what I`m surprised by, Bill? Is a lot of people come on my show and they will say you`re really reasonable. I talked to you and I thought for sure you were X, Y or Z and, wow.
And I say the same thing about them. Wow, you`re not like I -- we spend so much time dividing each other. There`s only been one person that has been on this show that I couldn`t -- I couldn`t find a common point in, because he just had such a strong agenda.
SHATNER: Who was that?
BECK: Who is it?
SHATNER: Who was that?
BECK: Bill Shatner. No. RFK. RFK Jr.
He`s -- I`m a corporate toady. I said, are you out of your mind? Look, I agree on this, this and this.
SHATNER: Well, he is really impassioned about the right things, by the way, but he`s -- and sometimes you need those leaders, those...
BECK: Not leaders -- look, if you want to talk about global warming here, I don`t want to get -- get bogged down on this but, look, I think there is a way to reach out with people.
I think that the ideas of where we go next are not settled. So let`s talk -- you talk to me about getting off of foreign oil. Great, man. I want a moon shot. Get us off oil. Let`s do it.
But let`s make sure that we`re working together on it. But one side can`t talk. The other side is either racist or stupid or a corporate toady or whatever it is.
SHATNER: We`ve got to get rid of -- we`ve got to get rid of that. But, you know, it doesn`t matter what you and I say. It matters what the politicians, people who we elect say. So it`s the people we elect.
BECK: So when do you think America finally says -- because I`ve got to tell you, I think -- I think -- what did we have, 700 people running for president? And we`re down to three people that I think everybody in the nation goes, how is this...
SHATNER: What are we spending, a billion...
BECK: A billion. It`s grotesque.
SHATNER: Yes. But it`s not over. We haven`t had the elections yet.
SHATNER: We`re just trying to get who the candidates are.
BECK: So what is the thing that`s going to happen where you say...
SHATNER: So you can think that the election costs $2 billion. It`s possible. $2 billion to elect somebody. That`s absurd when people are starving.
Why don`t we make an election for a period of time, six months, debate the issues, never mind the people. I don`t care what their sex lives are. What has that got to do with anything?
Tell me how you`re going to solve something. You tell me how you`re going to solve something, and I as a citizen will say, hmm, that sounds better, I`m voting for him. And that`s a fair election. But don`t give me he said and she said. That`s crazy!
BECK: How do we get there? That`s what I want. That`s what I think everybody in America wants.
SHATNER: The citizens of the United States have to take hold of it. That`s what elections are about. And you`ve got to elect the people you think are sensible. That`s what you`ve got to do.
BECK: OK. Let me flip this around on you.
BECK: I watch your show.
SHATNER: "Boston Legal."
BECK: I love "Boston Legal." I think you`re brilliant. Really think you`re brilliant.
But how come you have to be crazy to be a conservative? Why is the only damn conservative on the show nuts?
SHATNER: See, now you`ve just walked into your own trap. Why -- so what if there`s a conservative. What is conservative? Conservative used to be something else, right? I mean, conservative used to be lower taxes.
BECK: Come on, man. You`re nuts...
SHATNER: Wait a minute. Conservative used to be no debt. I mean, what -- the two lines of conservatism and liberal have be mixed up.
BECK: But you`re shooting people in the -- come on, I mean...
SHATNER: But that`s crazy, crafty. At times, the guy`s not crazy.
BECK: Oh, no, I know. He`s -- look, there are times -- here`s the thing...
SHATNER: So he may be pretending to be crazy. That`s kind of what I`m playing.
BECK: Because I have to tell you, I was at a hotel. I was traveling and I was doing some shows on the road. And I`m at the hotel and I turn on "Boston Legal." And I swear to you this is true.
I turn it on and I`m like, I`ll watch it when I get home. I don`t want to be lectured tonight because I always feel like, OK, I`m getting the lecture.
Turn it off. The phone rings. I turn off the light, I go to sleep. The phone rings.
A friend calls me and says, "Are you watching `Boston Legal?`" I said, "No." He said, "You are a closing argument."
They used me. I wasn`t being lectured to. I was actually being lectured to on "Boston Legal."
SHATNER: It`s great.
BECK: I mean, it was great. It was -- no, it was cool. It was cool. It`s like, I can`t believe this. I mean, this is ridiculous.
SHATNER: But what`s beautiful is that you stand for something. And you can rail against it or throw darts against it or agree with it.
I mean, at least you stand for something. And somebody over here stands for something. This is what they want. This is what you want. So we`ll elect it.
So the majority of people -- but they`ve got to educate them. You can`t be wandering around saying, well, it`s global warming -- or whatever it is.
Election changing -- changing the issues around election -- election funding, these are basic. Now, you can`t say, well, that`s beyond my -- I can`t. It isn`t. You give $100,000 in a donation to an elected official, you`ve got to expect that they`ve got to pay back.
SHATNER: That shouldn`t be allowed. You can`t pay back. This is a democracy.
Now, that`s theoretical and sophomoric, but in a way, it isn`t. It`s the way I saw from Canada this country running.
And every so often -- every time that we came to a crisis, I`d feel in the bottom of my heart like I know it`s going to happen now, America will come out of it. America -- but you have to have the education to do that.
Our educational system is bizarre! In the 30s or `40s of countries in the world? How is that possible? We`ve got billions of dollars we`re throwing at it. Why isn`t it better?
BECK: Because that`s the problem. We`re throwing billions of dollars at it. We have -- you know what? You know I`m a religious man. I believe we are violating the commandment of worshipping other gods. We are...
BECK: We are worshipping fame and we are worshipping...
SHATNER: Glenn, God is not punishing us for...
BECK: No, I`m not saying that. Listen to me. I`m not saying that.
SHATNER: Well, it`s what you seem to be saying. You seem to be saying, we`re worshipping bad gods, so we have bad education.
BECK: No! We are worshipping fame. We are worshipping money.
We are -- we are dedicating our life to the pursuit of money, the pursuit of fame, instead of looking at others and trying to help others and trying to get an education. Parents are not following through on their basic -- on their basic responsibility of rearing their children.
SHATNER: I`ll play devil`s advocate. I`ll play devil`s advocate.
BECK: All right.
SHATNER: You can`t be -- it`s difficult to be kind to the neighbor if you`re starving.
BECK: Nobody`s starving in America.
SHATNER: Wait a minute. Yes. What do you mean nobody is starving in America?
BECK: Nobody`s starving.
SHATNER: Are you serious?
BECK: Are you crazy?
SHATNER: Millions of kids go to bed hungry.
BECK: Millions of kids?
SHATNER: There are starvation...
BECK: I want the staff to give me the stat.
SHATNER: There are starvation going on in this country. There are have- nots in this country.
BECK: There are have-nots, but it`s not Ethiopia, for the love of Pete!
SHATNER: Well, no, but in context. In Ethiopia they don`t get a commercial saying drive this car.
BECK: In contrast, this is what they tried to do in the 1980s with Gorbachev. He tried to show the plight from "60 Minutes" in America. And you know what happened? It worked the opposite. People in Russia stood up and said, I want to be poor in America. Our poor here in America have it great in comparison to the rest of the world.
SHATNER: And still they can`t get health care. Still they can`t get taken care of. They have to go without medication.
BECK: But we have -- we have built a society that is all about taking care of someone else. Damn it, stand up and take care of yourself! Have a spine and take up...
SHATNER: But they have to do that with education. They have to be saying, well, I`ve got a skill, I can do that.
BECK: Do you know that in New York we`re now considering paying children to go to school? We`re giving you an education. Appreciate...
SHATNER: You know what that is? You know what that is? That`s desperation.
What is the solution to having -- being the richest country in the world and one of the worst educational systems? What is the answer to that? Is it more money for the teachers? They tried that. What -- and nobody`s got an answer.
BECK: It is the parents. It is the parents.
SHATNER: Right. And the parents are two jobs...
BECK: It is...
SHATNER: ... the parents are doing two jobs because they`ve got to survive and pay the rent.
BECK: Because we`re living in houses that we shouldn`t have. We have these enormous houses and these expensive lifestyles that we shouldn`t have because we`re worshipping the almighty dollar, fame and stuff.
Back with William Shatner.
BECK: We`re back with William Shatner. Autobiography "Up Till Now" is on bookshelves -- in bookstores everywhere.
SHATNER: On bookshelves for a brief moment, and then off of bookshelves.
BECK: And then off of the bookshelves. And hopefully you`ll be reading it on your pillow at bedtime.
SHATNER: It`s a very funny and touching book. And it`s getting great reviews. And I hope your audience will take a look at it.
BECK: Can you -- I want to go here -- in any direction you`re willing to go. I don`t even know how to phrase this.
Your third wife passed away. And I remember the press just tried to turn this into something horrific, just horrific. I can`t even imagine what that was like for you, to have to deal with both sides of that.
SHATNER: Well, exactly, both at the same time. The irony was that Nerine and I loved each other. It was -- it was -- there were elements of fantasy there, that she was this most beautiful, wonderful, humorous, loving, passionate lady that I loved desperately.
And she had a drinking problem. And as a result, when nobody was at home, and there was help all around, for a two-hour period -- I was 50 miles away having dinner with my daughter. And we surmised that she fell.
She had a high alcoholic content in her blood. And fell, hit her head, and drowned in the pool.
I wasn`t anywhere there. And the irony that for a brief while because -- and understandably -- the closest relative of something -- when somebody dies accidentally, the closest relative, you know...
SHATNER: ... if there`s any suspicion. The police immediately said it was an accident, and it was always an accident, it was thought of as an accident. But the press for a brief while tried to do something sensational.
In fact, "The National Enquirer" was going to run a story in that direction. And I thought what -- you know, I was in shock from the -- from the death. And I thought, maybe if I talk to them and tell them what had transpired.
So I got a price from them, got money from them to tell the story, to stop their story and to tell -- so that the story that -- of what transpired. So I got money from them which went into the fund -- started the fund, the Nerine Shatner Foundation for addicted women, which continues on.
SHATNER: There`s a home that takes care of 20 to 22 women who stay there at one time. Several graduates of that rehabilitation program have come to me from time to time and said that I saved their life. But it wasn`t me. It was Nerine`s memory. So Nerine`s life continues in this foundation, the Nerine Shatner Foundation, which, by the way, on www.shatner.com or shatnervision.com, you can get more information about that.
So that quelled all the supposing, and then people began to understand that a horrible accident had taken place.
BECK: Did you -- for a long time, you didn`t know that she had an alcohol problem.
SHATNER: When I first met her -- and ironically, I met her in a bar in Toronto. I was up there doing something professional -- I think I was directing a film. And there was a local bar in the hotel where everybody stays in Toronto.
And I was there with some friends and I saw this beautiful girl. And I was single and she looked at me and I looked at her.
It took about a week, and we sort of -- basically, to make a long story short, stayed in each other`s companies for seven years and then got married. And during that time I knew that she drank, and it offended me that she sometimes would drink to excess, but I never saw it as alcoholism.
SHATNER: My dear friend, Leonard Nimoy, who is himself a recovering alcoholic, began to educate me about what it was. And as I became aware that Nerine was having a problem, he took her under his wing, as he had so many other people, in terms of trying to get her help.
So we went to rehabilitation homes. We went to AA. We went -- all those things. I joined Al-Anon, you know, and I realized I don`t want to learn how to live with alcohol. I wan my wife to become whole.
SHATNER: And I was thinking that by loving, by loving enough -- I`d seen it work in animals, dogs and horses and kids, you put your arms around them and you love them, magical things happen.
BECK: It doesn`t work.
SHATNER: You know better than I, but I know a little that addiction isn`t that. Addiction is also physical. It`s also DNA. It`s psychological. There`s -- the mix of what addiction is so profound that people who are not addicted really have no idea.
And one more comment to further that along. The pain that I felt in Nerine`s passing gave me an insight into the pain that she must have felt everyday living. That the only cercese (ph) from that pain was her -- and she termed it that way as I heard so often before in sins (ph) -- her best friend, the bottle, gave her cercese (ph).
And I thought, my God, if I could drink, I would get drunk now just to relieve myself of the months that went by as I felt that grief.
BECK: Final moments with William Shatner in just a minute.
BECK: Back with final moments with William Shatner.
The book is "Up Till Now," and it is in book stores everywhere. And it is a fantastic read.
You know, I just said in the break how we could fit your life in 42 minutes, and we didn`t really get...
SHATNER: Well, something important that we also did say was that you, Leonard Nimoy, and a few other people that you and I know separately, made it through to become a recovering alcoholic.
SHATNER: But we both agreed that it never goes away and alertness to that snake on your shoulder is the key.
BECK: You are a blessed man. Do you know that?
SHATNER: I am. And I know that. I know it.
I know that I`ve had my share of problems with the world and people and all. But in the end, my spirit is such and my good fortune is such that I give thanks every day to whatever, to whomever.
BECK: What is the -- because, I mean, you really -- I`d love to do another five hours with you. You`ve had so many different experiences, good and bad, up and down.
What`s the secret? What is -- here up until now, you get here and you say, you know what? I think this is it.
SHATNER: I tell you what I -- I don`t know. Nobody knows anything. I don`t know.
For me, when I laid this book out talking to David Fisher (ph) for weeks on end, and he then laid it out, and I read what he had laid out, that`s the story of my life. But what`s the meaning.
And then on the second draft I began to see the meaning of what I was doing. And I realized that decisions that you make all the time, from minute decisions, to pick this book up and putting it here, to changing where you`re going to live or whether you`re going to get married or not, or stop drinking or not, major decisions and minute decision, all work as a piece. And you should try and be as aware as possible of every decision you make, so you make it consciously, good, bad or indifferent.
I decided to do that. After you`ve done it, you may decide, I should do something else, but at least you`ve made a conscious decision.
BECK: I hope, sir; that you have -- I hope, sir, that you walk out of the studio saying, I`m glad I made this decision.
SHATNER: I have.
BECK: Thank you.
SHATNER: Thank you.
BECK: William Shatner.
America, from New York, goodnight.