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CNN Larry King Live

Interview with Stephen Colbert

Aired October 11, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, on LARRY KING LIVE, he's a genuine fake newsman.

COLBERT: We have a huge show tonight, so I'll say in advance, you're welcome.


KING: Stephen Colbert mocks, pretends and offends with the best of them.


COLBERT: Mr. President, please, please, pay no attention to the people who say the glass is half full. There's still some liquid in that glass is my point. But I wouldn't drink it.


KING: He makes pompous and pretentious appealing -- but is he a journalist or jokester?

We'll explore the truthiness of it all.


COLBERT: Hey, that's not a word.


KING: And get serious about the tragedy that changed his life. Stephen Colbert -- the man and the character -- which one's going to show up and make fun of me?

You know it's coming. So I do.

What the heck?


And here he is, ladies and gentlemen -- Stephen Colbert.

Ah, yes.

Oh, what an honor.


KING: Oh, what a pleasure. Oh. Oh. And we are humbled.

COLBERT: Larry, I -- (INAUDIBLE). Thank you. Thank you. I usually do this until everyone is standing up. Thank you very much. Thank you.

KING: You really (INAUDIBLE)...

COLBERT: I have to. Thank you.

KING: You do great without an audience (INAUDIBLE).

COLBERT: Thank you very much.

KING: Mr. Colbert is the author...



COLBERT: I was a dancer, live report. That's how I started. I'm just a hoofer.

KING: Mr. Colbert is author of a terrific new book. He wrote a previous book called "I Am America (And So Can You!)." And his follow- up book is also grammatically incorrect -- "I Am America (And So Can You!)."

How you do -- how do you title these?

COLBERT: Well, I take the two phrases that work least well together and I slam them together with tremendous force in a linear accelerator in a Fermi lab. And if they stick, that's the title.

How are you?

KING: I'm fine. Just as we welcome you to this show and I want to say, you once welcomed me on "The Colbert Report". It was one of the thrilling nights of my life.

Let's take a look.


COLBERT: Those suspenders, they're trademark. Everybody knows, that's Larry King.

Do they have another function?

Can you kill with them?

Are they like nunchucks or something?

KING: You're not well, are you?


KING: I'm intensely curious. I ask short questions. I leave myself out of the interview. For example...

COLBERT: Well, that's what -- I don't like that. I'm letting you see (ph)...

KING: I know.

COLBERT: If you may notice from what's happening right now...

KING: Of course...

COLBERT: I don't like to leave myself out of the interview.

KING: For example -- I'll tell you why you don't.


KING: You're an egomaniac.


COLBERT: Oh, that. That would be a great show.

KING: That was fun.


KING: Which side of the desk is more comfortable for you, this or that?

COLBERT: Well, this is actually the desk -- the side of the desk I sit on when I interview people...

KING: I know.

COLBERT: So I like this side of the desk, because this is my dead ear and I don't have to listen to what you say. I can just listen to what I say. But I would much rather ask questions than be asked questions.

KING: Than be asked.

So, therefore, do you not like a book tour?

COLBERT: No. I love a book tour because I love selling books and I'm really of this and I want people to read it.

KING: Why are you proud of it?

COLBERT: Why am I proud of it? KING: Yes, why?

COLBERT: Because it's packed like -- it's packed with jokes like a peanuts in a Snickers bar.

KING: And that's...

COLBERT: Anywhere you slice it, it comes up funny, Larry. That's trademarked. You use it, I'll sue you.


Also, it's a little wider than most books.

Have you noticed that?

COLBERT: That's its major appeal.

KING: That is what...

COLBERT: Yes. You could -- you get a hole, you can patch drafts with it.


You give away things like stickers. That's an unusual thing to give away in book.

COLBERT: Well, there are opportunities in here. I don't want people to mark in the margins of the books, so I have little stickers in there to -- to the places where they agreed with me. It says things like, you know, he nailed it; it's morning in Colberica, tattoo this on Denise.


All right, why -- how did -- we're going to go back and forth here, you realize this...

COLBERT: I know. I know.

KING: Because I'm good interviewer so...

COLBERT: You are an excellent interviewer.

KING: OK. Sure.

COLBERT: You actually told me when I was on your show -- or rather you told me when you were on my show -- that a good interviewer lets the other person talk and doesn't talk about themselves.

KING: Correct. And he listens.

COLBERT: Right. Which is one of the reasons why I did not enjoy having you on my show...

KING: OK. I understand.

COLBERT: Because I enjoy talking about myself.

KING: Yes, I know that.

COLBERT: This is my chance to talk, Larry.

KING: But in this interview, we -- we have to go back and forth between two personas -- the play Stephen Colbert and the real Stephen Colbert.

COLBERT: Which one did you invite, because I never know who got the invitation because we've got the same name and we've got the same Social Security number.

KING: It must be bewildering being you.

COLBERT: It is. Luckily, I get to cash his checks because he makes way more money than I do.

KING: Is it sort of like Bergen and McCarthy?

Do you refer him to as "him?"

COLBERT: Ingmar Bergman and Joseph McCarthy?

KING: No, no, no. Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.

COLBERT: Edgar Bergen. Yes.

KING: Do you refer to him as "him?" COLBERT: I do. It's him. It's him. What would he do?

KING: That's right.

COLBERT: Let's talk about him.

KING: So who's -- who's here now?

COLBERT: This is just Stephen Colbert.

KING: Which Stephen Colbert?

COLBERT: The real Stephen Colbert.

KING: Oh, the real Stephen Colbert.

COLBERT: Hold on. Let me -- let me shake out a character.

Hi, Larry.


How did Stephen Colbert become Stephen Colbert?

COLBERT: He desperately needed a job. KING: Really?

COLBERT: Really. Absolutely. I was a comedian -- I am a comedian. I started at Second City in Chicago.

KING: You did stand-up?

COLBERT: No stand-up, improv. I did improv scenes and, you know, relationship humor and nothing political -- nothing topical at all. I wouldn't even refer to real places or things or events because...

KING: You did like family stuff.

COLBERT: Yes. Absolutely. Just relationship comedy.

KING: Doctor's office.

COLBERT: Exactly. Good morning. Give it to me straight, doc.

KING: Yes.

COLBERT: Exactly. Every scene opened with that. And I came to New York and I did some stuff and I was unemployed in New York. And...

KING: Not long ago?

COLBERT: Well, long enough ago that my wife forgets. And I got a call from ABC News, because they were looking for somebody who looked straight but could act funny. And, you know, I feel perfectly comfortable in a Brooks Brothers suit and regimental striped tie. So, evidently that was the qualifications, because I had no other...

KING: For what show?

COLBERT: For "Good Morning America".


COLBERT: And I had press credentials suddenly. And I worked for ABC News, where more Americans got their news than any other source...

KING: I know that.

COLBERT: the time. You remember that. Yes.

KING: So you did comedy?

COLBERT: But I have to say it. Legally I have to say that. (INAUDIBLE).

KING: You did comedy?

COLBERT: No. They wanted me -- they said they wanted me to do comedy in the morning for Charlie Gibson. You probably know Mr. Charles Gibson, though, because he's...

KING: Yes, I know him.

COLBERT: ...he's got credibility. For Charlie...

KING: A big desk.

COLBERT: For Charlie Gibson and Joan and Spencer. And they really just wanted me to quip. And so I did one piece (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: You quipped?

COLBERT: I quipped. I did one piece for them. I had a 30 minute exchange with Charlie Gibson. And I knew that the writing was on the wall. They were never going to use me again. But I had been writing comedy. I had written for " Saturday Night Live" briefly. I had written for Dan Harvey (ph).


COLBERT: And I had a -- I had press credentials from ABC. And "The Daily Show" had just started. And they called and they said come meet with us. And they said what are you doing? And they looked at my resume and they said you were genetically engineered to be a correspondent for this show.


COLBERT: And I pitched them the stories that ABC wouldn't do. And they said we'll hire you. And that's how it started.

KING: You only did one thing for ABC?

COLBERT: I did two. One of them they immediately composted. And the other one they put on the air.

KING: And did they tell you no, good-bye?

COLBERT: No. No. They shot down 20 stories in a row. That's how they said no to me.

KING: That's how they do it at networks, right?

COLBERT: Yes. Exactly.

KING: They don't say good-bye.


KING: They don't say good-bye.


KING: They just say no, not this time.

COLBERT: No. You're never canceled, you're just a snack drawer that's empty.

KING: So you bring them a story and they say what?



COLBERT: What else you got?

I said I've got a baby at home I've got to feed.

What else -- what can I do?

KING: Did they pay you per story?


KING: So you got one paycheck?

COLBERT: I got one paycheck.

KING: The saga of Stephen Colbert continues.

COLBERT: It's sad.

KING: When we come back, we'll talk more. We'll have e-mails. We'll have phone calls. And, also, we'll out why it isn't Col-bert.

Don't go away.


COLBERT: The following anger has been formatted to fit your television screen.

Then -- do we need a third political party?

I don't think we need a second political party.

I've got 99 problems, but the truth ain't one.

This is "The Colbert Report".




COLBERT: It's steamy in here right now. You could put some flour and some yeast on my pants and pull out a parmesan baguette.

It was actually pretty impressive. I was both shocked and awed.

Winter, spring, summer or fall...

Why don't you just clear up any doubts people may have by peeing in a cup on camera?


COLBERT: We've got plenty of tape, a lot of witnesses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was not going to pee into a cup on camera.

COLBERT: You not wanting to pee in a cup on national television seems pretty suspicious.


KING: Stephen Colbert. The book is "I Am America (And So Can You!)" -- a destined best-seller (INAUDIBLE).

COLBERT: Thank you very much.

KING: This can't miss.

COLBERT: Absolutely not.

Can I take a moment to apologize to that woman I asked to pee into a cup?

KING: Who was that?

COLBERT: She was an international bridge champion, playing bridge.

KING: How could you do that to...

COLBERT: And she was being accused of performance enhancing drug doping.

KING: Playing bridge?

COLBERT: Playing bridge. I think it was Sudafed.


COLBERT: I'm sorry. I apologize.


COLBERT: But it was my job.

KING: There you have it now.

COLBERT: I had to.

KING: Why aren't you "Col-bert?"

COLBERT: My dad was "Col-bert" and my grandfather was "Col-bert".

KING: Oh, so it's a fake name, too? COLBERT: It's not a fake name. I'm not saying I'm not a fake person. But my father wanted to be Colbert. But his father didn't understand. He thought it was insulting that his son would want to go by a different pronunciation. So -- I'm one of 11 kids. And my father said to us, you make up your mind. You can be "Col-bert" or Colbert, I won't be insulted.

KING: Are you French derivation?

COLBERT: Evidently. Yes.

KING: It could be "Col-bert".

COLBERT: Somewhere way back in the line we say that we're related to the Marqui de Senulae (ph), Jean Batiste Colbert, who was the finance minister for Louis XIV. And now I'm out of French. I've got no more.

KING: Do you like Colbert, the name?

COLBERT: I love Colbert the name.

KING: It's like it's a hip name.

COLBERT: It is now.

KING: No, "Col-bert" is not a hip name. Colbert is a hip name.

COLBERT: "Col-bert" is a little -- a little bit more of a solid American name, I think, than Colbert. But half the kids in my family say Colbert and half say "Col-bert".

KING: What's the concept of the book?

COLBERT: The book is a...

KING: Good question, see that, concept?

It makes you think.

COLBERT: Does it?

KING: I hope so.

COLBERT: Is that what's happening in my head right now?

KING: Yes.

COLBERT: Because it's painful.

KING: What did he mean by concept?

COLBERT: Why are you making me think, Larry?

The book is -- the book is like the show. It's -- the show is an extension and an amplification of pundit shows. KING: All pundit shows?

COLBERT: All pundit shows.

KING: So when they say you're just doing O'Reilly, that's wrong?

COLBERT: No, no, no, no.

KING: You do all pundits.

COLBERT: I'm also Hannity.

KING: Russert?

COLBERT: Well, Russert is less of a pundit and more of a pumpkin.


COLBERT: Lou Dobbs, our broken borders. And, I love you, Lou, but find another catchphrase. And the book is the kind of book they would put out -- my broken borders or who's looking out for you, like O'Reilly's book.

KING: Are you...

COLBERT: It's an extension -- it describes what's wrong with America and how we can fix it, Larry.

KING: Are you making fun of the pundit?

COLBERT: Mockery.

KING: Mockery?

COLBERT: Mockery might be a more accurate term.

KING: Do you think they have brought down the level of journalism?

COLBERT: They -- I don't know if they've brought the level. They've certainly raised the volume. Because the one thing you know about a pundit is that the person who's loudest, Larry -- the person who's loudest is rightest.

I will cut this mike off, all right?

KING: Yes.

COLBERT: Right now. Jimmy, cut him off. Cut off King.

Is my director not here?

KING: OK. I get it.

That's the way you do it.

COLBERT: Is my director not here?

KING: That's very good.

COLBERT: Thank you very much.

Do you enjoy being shouted at?

KING: Yes, I don't mind.

COLBERT: You don't mind?

KING: I got the job. You were...


COLBERT: That's how I got the job.

KING: You were the after dinner speaker at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner.

COLBERT: I remember.

KING: Let us see a sample.


COLBERT: Most of all, I believe in this president. Now I know there are some polls out there saying that this man has a 32 percent approval rating. But guys like us, we don't -- we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in reality.


COLBERT: And reality has a well known liberal bias.


KING: Did he laugh?

COLBERT: I wouldn't know. I wasn't looking at him until -- until the very end. I went through the entire speech, about 22 minutes, and we had a little tape that we rolled in. And I looked over to see if he was enjoying the videotape. And he wasn't looking at the videotape, he was looking at me. And he gave me one of these.

KING: That Texas wink?

COLBERT: Yes, a little Texas wink. And a chill...

KING: Do you think he understood...

COLBERT: ...a chill went down my spine.

KING: So you think he understood you? COLBERT: Oh, absolutely. He's not -- he's not a stupid guy.


COLBERT: No, not at all.

KING: He understood.

COLBERT: Jokes aside, I'm sure he's a very smart guy.

KING: You complete -- you write the complete text of that speech in the back of the book.

COLBERT: I think that children should have a chance to memorize it like "The Gettysburg Address," Larry.

KING: So you want it memorialized?

COLBERT: Absolutely. Pound for pound, you get more from my speech than "The Gettysburg Address." His is like 820 words.

KING: Yes.

COLBERT: This is like -- this is like 2,200. So there's more value here than Lincoln ever gave you.

I'm not saying I'm better than Lincoln, I'm just saying...

KING: Yes, you are saying that, in a sense.

COLBERT: All right. OK. Thank you.

KING: Yes.

COLBERT: Thank you for allowing me. I am better than Abraham Lincoln.


The book is "I Am America (And So Can You!)". The author is Stephen Colbert and we'll be back.


COLBERT: I may disagree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for my right to fight you to the death.

Then, I'll talk about gay issues, but I'll be thinking about straight issues the whole time.

I'm living high on the hog, and let me tell you, hogs make a terrible foundation.

This is "The Colbert Report".




COLBERT: But not everyone supports our troops enough to give them the job security a war with Iran would provide.

People like Senator Jim Webb, who voted against the amendment, calling it "Dick Cheney's fondest pipe dream." Well, that is completely unfair. Everyone knows Dick Cheney's fondest pipe dream is driving a bulldozer into the "New York Times" while drinking crude oil out of Keith's Olbermann's skull.


COLBERT: A true story...

KING: A true story?

COLBERT: Based on a true story.

KING: Stephen Colbert. The book is "I Am America (And So Can You!)" and Frank Rich of the "New York Times," -- the distinguished Frank Rich...

COLBERT: Oh, yes.

KING: ...eventually described your correspondents dinner speech as the defining moment of the 2006 mid-term election.

Do you agree?

COLBERT: I can't fight Frank Rich. If he wants to praise me...

KING: So you now not only write speeches better than "Gettysburg," you provide defining moments...

COLBERT: I'm a historical figure, Larry. I'm not going to fight the "New York Times". It's the newspaper of record. (INAUDIBLE).

KING: You're humbled by this?


KING: You're not humbled?

COLBERT: I'm not humbled by it. I wouldn't say that phrase would humble you. No. That aggrandizes me. I accept it.

KING: You are what you are, whatever that means. We have an e...

COLBERT: I have no idea what I am.

(LAUGHTER) COLBERT: I'm hoping to find out tonight.

KING: You've got to be weird, in this respect...

COLBERT: I am strange.

KING: No -- strange?

COLBERT: I'm deeply, deeply weird.

KING: You don't know who you are. You leave the house in the morning as Stephen Colbert 1, you get to the studio, you become Stephen Colbert 2. Then you get off the air and you go back to Stephen Colbert. There might even be a Stephen Colbert 3.

Is there?

COLBERT: I can't tell you he goes. I might run for political office someday. By the way...


COLBERT: ...a lot of people see this book -- and I know you're about to ask this -- a lot of people see this book as testing the waters for a run for political office. A lot of people are dissatisfied but they can't...

KING: What office?

COLBERT: What office?


COLBERT: I don't know. I'm not a bridesmaid, OK?

I'm the bride.

KING: Are you saying here tonight...

COLBERT: I am not saying anything Larry.

What are you asking me?

KING: Are you thinking about running for the big one?



COLBERT: Go down one more notch.

KING: One notch, president.

Are you thinking about it?

COLBERT: Well, Larry, I've got to -- this question comes as a surprise. But...


COLBERT: Obviously, every boy has thought of it.

KING: That's right.

COLBERT: And when you look at a field like this, you know...

KING: You're not impressed?

COLBERT: I mean there are some people who have gotten some good messages out there. I'm fond -- I mean Fred Thompson has got a great campaign -- do not disturb.


COLBERT: And -- but I think maybe there's something I could offer the campaign on a state by...

KING: What part...

COLBERT: ...state basis. I'm not saying I would target -- I would target a state individually and...

KING: To see how you would do?

COLBERT: Just a little test run.

KING: And what state?

COLBERT: But I've made no decision, Larry.

KING: What state?


KING: What state?

COLBERT: Well, I mean, I'm a native of South Carolina. That's -- it seems like a natural place to start.

KING: What party?

COLBERT: A favorite son campaign.

Excuse me?

KING: What party?

COLBERT: Oh, I'm an Independent, so I'd probably run in both parties.


COLBERT: I'd let the people decide what party I belong in, Larry. I don't dictate the people's actions.

KING: That's a cop out, you realize.

COLBERT: Excuse me?

KING: It's a cop out.

COLBERT: It's a cop out?

KING: Sure...

COLBERT: What's the difference between a cop out and courage?


All the difference in the world.

COLBERT: Uh-huh. Not how I define it.


You think it's courage to enter both primaries?

COLBERT: Absolutely. I could lose twice, Larry.

KING: OK. You've got a point.

COLBERT: Thank you. That's the -- I rarely hear that.

KING: We have an e-mail from Kathy in Fenton, Michigan: "You're now a pop culture icon. Which culture icons -- real or fictional -- influenced you when you were growing up?


Steve Martin -- a huge influence.

KING: Good one.

COLBERT: George Carlin...


COLBERT: His album, "The Class Clown," I just wore out. The seven dirty words you can never say on television.

Can I say them?


COLBERT: It's 20 years later and you can't say them?

KING: You still can't.

COLBERT: We haven't come that far. This is cable.

KING: Yes, you can.

COLBERT: There was a guy actually named Don Novello, who was Father Guide Sarducci...

KING: Father Guido Sarducci.

COLBERT: Incredible. He wrote a series -- he wrote some books called "The Lazlo Letters" about a super patriot letter writer who is obsessed with Richard Nixon. And as a kid, I just -- I love it. Nixon. Nixon was a huge pop culture icon for me. When I was a kid -- a little boy, I had a 1972 Nixon campaign poster on the wall. It said...

KING: Why?

COLBERT: Well, because he was so -- he was such an object of comedy. Like everybody made Nixon jokes when I was a kid. Like I was eight when Watergate happened. And so that's when you become aware of the world and start to understand, I think, irony and satire or sarcasm. And so he was the ultimate punch line to me. And I was also -- I had -- I'm the youngest of 11, so my older brothers and sisters, you know -- you know, power to the people -- were explaining to me why he was abusing power, man, and why we can't trust these people.

And so he was just such an important cultural figure.

KING: So you had many.


KING: One of the featured segments of "The Colbert Report" is "Better Know A District." That's district as in Congressional district.

COLBERT: Right. Yes.

KING: Let's watch an example.


COLBERT: Let's say a few things that would really lose the elections for you if you were contested. But remember, you're not contested. There's no way you can lose.


COLBERT: I enjoy cocaine because...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a fun thing to do.

COLBERT: (INAUDIBLE). I enjoy cocaine because it's a fun thing to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I enjoy cocaine because it's a fun thing to do.


COLBERT: I enjoy the company of prostitutes for the following reasons...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I enjoy the company of prostitutes for the following reasons -- oh, because it's a fun thing to do.

COLBERT: OK. That's like cocaine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's like cocaine.


KING: Yes.

How did you get that to happen?

COLBERT: I asked him to say it. Everybody -- that's the one that everybody in Congress goes, well, I don't want to be Robert Wexler like, you know, they're being -- you know, sometimes they're skittish to come on. And Congressman Wexler was running unopposed. He knew exactly what we were doing. He was completely in on the joke.

And I said would you say this?

And he goes sure. You know, I understand that it's a joke. There was no trickery at all.

I said would you say it?

And he said it.

KING: Were you surprised he said it?

COLBERT: Oh, yes.


COLBERT: I mean I knew it would be funny, I didn't know how much it would be funny. And he came back on the show. He was very good- natured about it -- far more good-natured than the people who watched it were.

KING: Would you invite Senator Larry Craig on?

COLBERT: Oh, yes. Absolutely. In a minute. I mean he's a senator, you know, and my character supports him.

KING: Supports him?

COLBERT: Absolutely.

KING: You like him?

COLBERT: Well, he's an oppressed -- he's an oppressed minority. He's a -- he's an openly gay man who...

KING: He's not openly gay.

COLBERT: He is openly gay. He used gay code when he said I am not gay. That's gays well known...

KING: That's gay code?

COLBERT: That's the gay code. That's why the best way to prove you are not gay is to say, I am so gay.


COLBERT: Larry, are you gay?


COLBERT: Loud and clear, sir. Loud and clear.

KING: No. I don't mean I as an attack. I like a lot of -- I have many friends that...


Who doesn't, Larry?

KING: Have you ever done that bathroom thing?

COLBERT: Excuse me?

KING: Never mind.

Stephen Colbert.

COLBERT: I tap my toes. I hum when I'm in a stall, Larry.


You hum?

COLBERT: I just -- I'm -- I hum and I tap my toes.

KING: I read the sports pages.

COLBERT: It's -- what?

KING: Yes, the sports pages.

You can go to the bathroom without reading?

COLBERT: Yes, I have to sing. I have to hum. That's my entertainment.


COLBERT: (INAUDIBLE) a Republican. KING: What if someone in the next booth picks up on -- on what you -- supposing you're humming a romantic song?

COLBERT: We do harmony. We do harmony.


COLBERT: I can do the baseline to the national anthem, if you'd like to do it.


KING: The book is "I Am America (And So Can You!)"

The guest is Stephen Colbert.

We'll be right back.


COLBERT (SINGING): I write the songs that make the whole world sing, I write the songs of love and special things...

TONY BENNETT (SINGING): Oh, then it's busy (INAUDIBLE) dizzy.

COLBERT: Tony, that's how people are, they laughed at me, why you? Said it would be hello, good-bye. But boy, you came through. Now they're eating humble pie.




COLBERT: The fear mongers over at CNN are mongering fear again. According to a recent report, doctors are writing some 65 million prescriptions every year for drugs that are not FDA approved. Big whoopi-ta-do. Your body has its own regulatory agency, folks. When you ingest chemicals that are bad for you, your body alerts you by dying.


KING: Good point. Our guest is Stephen Colbert. His book is "I am America and So Can You." We sent our King Cam crew out. That's our camera. We call it the King Cam.

COLBERT: Is it mounted on something?

KING: I don't think so. Here are what some people have to say to you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Colbert, I just want to know why you hate democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In person, you seem stiff and wooden but in person you look natural and fresh. How do you do it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you going to be for Halloween this year?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just concerned about your wrist and how it's doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ginger or Maryann?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to be Jon Stewart's vice president or is Jon Stewart going to be your vice president?


COLBERT: I have to get one of those heads.

KING: Do you remember any of those questions?

COLBERT: Is Jon going to be my vice president or am I going to be his vice president? You know who as actually offered me a vice- presidential slot. This is in all seriousness. He has come on my show three times and each time he offered it to me.

KING: Who.

COLBERT: Huckabee. Governor Huckabee offered me on the show and when a certain other person named Hannity on a different network asked him who he liked on this person's show he actually said I already made a promise to Stephen Colbert. So if I get the ticket, I'm not saying I'm running, I probably have to offer it to him just tit for tat.

Can you say that on cable?

KING: Yeah. He is a great guy. He is from Hope, Arkansas.

COLBERT: He is unbelievable. Yeah.

KING: You remember the president from hope?

COLBERT: He's an incredibly impressive guy in person.

KING: Lost all that weight? Did you ever see him before he had the weight? I mean, before he lost the weight.

COLBERT: No, I never did. Enormous?

KING: Enormous.

COLBERT: How big?

KING: Big.

COLBERT: When he sits around the house? KING: Over 300.

COLBERT: Seafood diet.

KING: On a serious note.

COLBERT: Oh, boy.

KING: No, this was a very sad, your dad and two brothers die in a plane crash in 1974. How old were you?

COLBERT: I was 10.

KING: How do you handle something like that?

COLBERT: Everything that happens to you as a child seems normal because you have no reference point, so it seems, it seems normal, this is what happens. It's obviously was sad and shocking, but I didn't feel like something strange had happened to me, because what else -- what else did I know?

KING: You had all those other brothers, right?


KING: And sisters.

COLBERT: Mm-hmm.

KING: And your mom.


KING: Did she remarry?

COLBERT: She never did, no. It was obviously very tough on her. It was her husband and two of her boys. And for me it was my two brothers right up from me. Because my family was Jimmy, Eddie, Mary, Billy, Marty, Tommy, Jay, Lulu, Paul, Peter, Stephen, and it was Paul and Peter died.

So - and everybody else was off to college or married. And so it became a very busy house and a very quiet house very quickly. My sister Lulu came home for a while before she got married.

KING: In South Carolina?

COLBERT: It was in Charleston.

KING: Did that cause you to have any fear of flying?

COLBERT: No. Because what are the odds.

KING: Is that the way you looked at it?

COLBERT: That's exactly the way I looked at it. What are the odds?

KING: To wipe out a whole family is impossible and I'll fly.

COLBERT: We've paid our dues in that direction and flying does not scare me. Didn't scare me until I had my own kids, then I thought, oh, well, I didn't actually think about it at all. I couldn't pinpoint the moment that it happened, but it came back to me for a while after I had my own boys and girls.

KING: How long, Stephen, do you want to keep being this persona? How long do you want to be Stephen Colbert?

COLBERT: I just barely keep it up for the LARRY KING SHOW.

KING: Now you're going to be two years on the air? Next week.

COLBERT: October 17th is two years. I'll do it forever. I'll do it forever. I'm the executive producer -- As long as it's fun. Because I'm the executive producer, and I'm one of the writers, and I'm the star of the show. And it asks of me everything I know how to do. I have people write and edit and produce, you have to be able to manage people, you have to be able to -- I get to sing with Tony Bennett. I don't -- Jon doesn't get to sing with Tony Bennett. I have a better job.

KING: Were you jealous he beat you for an Emmy?

COLBERT: Yes. Very. Last year, I kissed him on the cheek and said it's go time this year, you're going down.

KING: But he beat you again.

COLBERT: Excuse me?

KING: Didn't he beat you again.

COLBERT: I don't remember.

KING: He beat you again.

COLBERT: I don't remember.

KING: Barry Manilow beat ...

COLBERT: Ululululululululululululu.

What else you got?

KING: Barry Manilow beat you.

COLBERT: He beat me last year, Larry. He beat me last year. Barry and I have become best friends.

KING: You've gotten over it?

COLBERT: I've gotten over it. I forgave him because we - we signed a peace treaty and he agreed to share his Emmy with me six months out of the year. I've got it now.

KING: You hold ...

COLBERT: I have the Emmy this half of the year.

KING: How can you reduce yourself to asking someone to share their Emmy to you? You didn't win it. He won it.

COLBERT: Have you won an Emmy, Larry?

KING: Yes.

COLBERT: When I win an Emmy I'll be as big as you are. In the meantime, gimme, gimme, gimme. Can I have one of yours?


COLBERT: You don't mean it. Nation, you heard it.

KING: OK. Stephen Colbert is the guest. "I am America and So Can You" is the book. Are they applauding me? We'll be right back.


JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": These are the green Emmys. This carpet is made of -- you heard him, made of bottles.

COLBERT: Jon, I am green. I am green. I want to do something about global warming. This baby runs on alternative fuel.

STEWART: What fuel?

COLBERT: Al Gore's tears.






COLBERT: I'm sure you've seen him. Friend of the show, Lance Armstrong started the trend with a yellow one he uses to raise awareness. I believe he had cancer of the bicycle.

I present to you the Stephen Colbert WristStrong bracelet. Right there! See that? Larry King showed his support for the differently wristed. Larry, that is a great start, but is this too much to ask for?


KING: We're back with Stephen Colbert. I have a red wristband, too, that supports my heart foundation. Save the heart.

COLBERT: Is that your heart foundation?

KING: Yeah, Larry King Cardiac Foundation.

COLBERT: That's fantastic. You want to trade? You've got an extra one? I'll wear one.

KING: We are going to ask you to speak at our gala next year.


KING: You better.

COLBERT: I know.

KING: We have clout.

We have a telephone call for Mr. Colbert, it's from Bethesda, Maryland. Hello.

COLBERT: Hey, I grew up in Bethesda.

CALLER: Have you ever been arrested, and if so, what for?

KING: Where did that come from?

COLBERT: Have I ever been arrested? Officer, have we met before? I thought we expunged that. No, I never have. I'm looking forward to it, though.

KING: It's another experience.

COLBERT: Yeah, I'm hoping it's like an open container law. Something like that.

KING: You were telling me you are deaf in your right ear and have been since first grade.


KING: And that's an advantage?

COLBERT: Right. Because you can pretend whatever ear is facing someone is your deaf ear and you can ignore them or I can pretend I'm asleep and my wife can't wake me up. And I also get special parking for the one-eared.

KING: McAllister, Oklahoma, next call, hello.

CALLER: I would like to say I love the show, as per my oral agreement with the guy on the other line. Stephen, I was just wondering what kind of advice you would have for someone wanting to get into comedy. And can you give me a job?

COLBERT: Hold off on the job for the job for just a second. I always recommend people get in trouble. Commit yourself to an open mike night or write something and say you're going to read it in public, but get in trouble. You're never going to learn until you fail. And I think a great place to fail is Chicago. That's where I started. You have to go out there and figure out what you can do and can't do.

KING: What made Second City special?

COLBERT: You didn't have to learn any lines because you could improvise.

KING: But a lot of great ones, Shelly Berman started there.

COLBERT: Absolutely.

KING: (inaudible)

COLBERT: Yeah. A bunch of the original "SNL" people there. I was hired the same day as Chris Farley.

KING: Really?

COLBERT: It was place. We toured around the country together. He was a great guy.

KING: What was it like to work with him? He was unbelievable.

COLBERT: Unpredictable, unpredictable. Yeah.

KING: But he was wild.

COLBERT: He was fantastic. And you know what? I think what a lot of people don't know about Chris is that he was really smart, a really smart guy. He played the buffoon but he had a huge heart and he was really intelligent.

KING: How have you avoided the drug scene?

COLBERT: Who says I've avoided the drug scene, Larry? You're -- Have you not done your investigation?

KING: My reporters have not come up with anything.

COLBERT: I've tried and honey, it's time to put the kids to bed. I've tried to improvise because Second City had this terrible reputation of being like drug haven at one point back in the day. It isn't anymore. It's very clean. People actually go there to dry out. But I tried to improvise high once. I just got so fascinated with the other people on stage that I didn't say a word for a half hour. I just thought they were wonderful.

KING: We have to take a break. Anderson Cooper, who by the way you recently attacked for doing that report on drugs that were not approved.

COLBERT: I did not. He did. Not me. KING: Yes. You said the human body can handle it.

COLBERT: I'm a huge fan of his.

KING: I know. Tell him so. Throw to him. He's going to do a preview of his show at the top of the hour.

COLBERT: Anderson, how are you?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I'm good, Mr. Colbert, how are you?

COLBERT: Just great. You look like you recently had yourself polished. It must be a burden have that much silver.

COOPER: Buffed and polished right before the show.

KING: He is going to do a promo for his show.

COLBERT: I'll stop talking.

KING: Say what's up?

COLBERT: What's up, Anderson.

COOPER: Larry, Stephen, guns, grenade and plot to kill on the outskirts of Philadelphia, a 14-year-old boy suspected of plotting a Columbine type killing. We have a report on how police say it was all thwarted.

Also a 360 exclusive. We are going to hear the just audio of the frantic phone calls by Noah Gotbaum as he tried to warn Phoenix officials his wife, Betsy Gotbaum, was suicidal. The sad truth, she was already dead in a holding cell in the Phoenix Airport. They knew it and didn't tell him. All that straight ahead at the top of the hour, Larry and Stephen.

KING: That's AC 360 at 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. We'll be back with Stephen Colbert right after this.


COLBERT: There is wheat in your ice cream.



NELSON: I thought they said weed.

RICHARD BRANSON, CEO, VIRGIN: And all he talks about is his airlines.

COLBERT: Don't fight it.

Oh, boy. I like you, Fonda.

JANE FONDA, ACTRESS: I like you, too, Colbert.



COLBERT: We have a huge show tonight. So I'll say in advance, you're welcome.

You should never attack someone based on sexual orientation and gender. You should attack someone based on fear and anger.

When my car runs out of gas, I buy a new one. I don't want to ride around in a quitter.

I heard that after you throw away a "New York Times," it takes over a hundred years for the lies to biodegrade.


KING: Our guest is Stephen Colbert, "I am America" is his new book. By the way, it's podcast time. That's right. Our new podcast, Kid Rock is available. Head to Or iTunes and download never entertaining Kid Rock. He talks about everything from Pamela Anderson to Iraq, even about his new album. The Kid Rock LARRY KING LIVE podcast. Download it now.

Stephen, would you like to be our next podcast? I can arrange that.

COLBERT: I would love to. How do I do that?

KING: You don't have to do anything. Just say you would like to be our next pod cast.

COLBERT: I would like to be your next podcast.

KING: You follow Kid Rock. You like Kid Rock.

COLBERT: I love Kid Rock.

KING: You saw him on this show, right?

COLBERT: I did. Oh yeah. I'm a cowboy, too.

KING: So you will be our next podcast.

COLBERT: Fantastic. I've committed myself?

KING: Yes. You can announce it on our show.

This is an e-mail question from John in Franklin, North Carolina, "If the bald eagle ever retires, would you consider becoming the symbol of America?"

COLBERT: Yes. I have nothing to add. Do you need more? Yes, I will become our national symbol. I can do that. Put a ribbon in here.

KING: Do you think you're a great American? I know you love your country. But ...

COLBERT: Well, I do love my country. I don't think I'm particularly a good American. I don't know what makes a good American. Other than somebody who -- I like people who let other people alone. I think that's a pretty good American. And I keep my hands to myself. So I'm an OK American.

KING: That was very serious, Steve. That was very touching.

COLBERT: Well, you nailed me, Larry. What can I say? You got through my armor. You got where Diane Sawyer couldn't.

KING: I creased that, pierced that thing you wear.


KING: When you leave the house in the morning, where do you live?

COLBERT: I'm not telling you where I live. There are very disturbed people out there who want to know where I live.

KING: I mean the general ...

COLBERT: I live in America, Larry.


COLBERT: Yes. I'm a fantastic American.

KING: OK. Now, we know the truth. When you leave the house.

COLBERT: Yes, when I leave the house.

KING: Goodbye, darling, goodbye kids.

COLBERT: I get in the shuttle craft.

KING: Do you take the kids to school?

COLBERT: I do. I do. We rock out on the way to school.

KING: OK. Now, you're heading out. When do become Stephen Colbert?

COLBERT: I don't actually become Stephen Colbert until right before the show. Because all day long - you can't be Stephen Colbert because he would be a terrible executive producer.

KING: Yeah.

COLBERT: Yeah. He would shout at everyone the first time anyone went wrong. Because he has no patience for incompetence. KING: So you have to wait until it's ...

COLBERT: Literally right before they call me for the show then I have a special button that I push on my side. It releases the gas.

KING: So you're not him when writing?

COLBERT: Oh writing, I improvise, I stand him up and sort of shout him to try to rewrite things to try to get the language right.

KING: Do you like him?

COLBERT: I do. I do. Because you know why? I don't think I was -- you know, I used to worry that he would be a jerk, so we worked very hard to keep him from being a jerk by keeping in mind that he's well-intentioned, just poorly informed. He wants to do the right thing but has none of the tools to achieve it because he has no curiosity, he doesn't like to read and he won't listen to anybody except the voices in his head.

KING: He's a pundit.


KING: We'll be back in the remaining moments with Stephen Colbert and his brilliant new book, "I am America and So Can You." Don't go away.


COLBERT: Who would win their album sales war? Well, nation, after releasing their album on the same day, their numbers are in and Kanye's album "Graduation" sold 957,000 copies, while 50's "Curtis" sold only 691,000. Now, I have disagreed with Kanye in the past, but he sold more albums, so the market has spoken. George Bush doesn't care about black people.




COLBERT: Let's have a look at you going down the stairs.

HOMER SIMPSON, CARTOON CHARACTER: I can do this. Ah-oh-oh-eh- oh-ohh.

COLBERT: Homer, your journey downstairs would have been a lot safer if you remembered the NDCs of concentration, never don't concentrate.

H. SIMPSON: Will you shut up? I can't hear the song in my head.

BART SIMPSON, CARTOON CHARACTER: You want to get a reaction shot of his butt? COLBERT: No. But we should get some background noise. Everyone quiet for four seconds. Thank you, people. Moving on.


KING: Stephen Colbert, did you have fun doing the Simpsons?

COLBERT: I did. It was an honor. I got the script signed by the whole cast. It was tremendous.

KING: Are you fearless? Are you that gutsy?

COLBERT: Hard to embarrass. How about that? Is that good?

KING: You would do anything on the air, wouldn't you?

COLBERT: Probably, anything legal.

KING: Because it doesn't matter.

COLBERT: It doesn't matter.

KING: Is it for attention?

COLBERT: Of course, of course, I'm the youngest of 11 children, I do everything for attention and to impress girls. What else is worth doing other than impressing girls, your mom or your wife?

KING: That's right. If you can impress them.

COLBERT: You're done. That's what I tell my boys, just impress the girls.

KING: How old are your boys?

COLBERT: Nine and five.

KING: I've got eight and seven. Nothing like that.

COLBERT: Really? It's incredible. It's a drug.

KING: What do they think of their dad?

COLBERT: I tell them I'm professionally ridiculous.

KING: They don't understand?

COLBERT: They don't quite understand. My daughter one day heard me on the phone, this is when she was turning 10. She heard me on the phone, and I got off the phone, I was talking with a comedy writer, and I hung up the phone and she was staring at me, and she said, you, you didn't mean what you were saying? I said, that's right, daddy doesn't mean what he was saying. So she's beginning to understand irony.

KING: Thanks so much. COLBERT: Thanks for having me.

KING: Stay a second, we've got a couple things to do. We're going to have you introduce Anderson.


KING: Before we go, here's a great new book to check out, it's "Cristina's Tuscan Table." Christina Cheka (ph), Telle Cheka (ph) I think. Yeah, that's it, I think. Owner of a terrific restaurant in the world famous Sun Valley. Great recipes, gorgeous pictures, food, family, fun for all from a Tuscan native who makes it look so easy. "Cristina's Tuscan Table" I getting hungry just holding it.

And finally, don't forget our Web site, You can download our newest podcast, Kid Rock or participate in a quick vote. It's all at

And don't forget, the next pod cast will be as promised, Stephen Colbert. Tomorrow night's guest the legendary Eric Clapton, Monday night, the Trumpster, Donald Trump. You may now read from there.

COLBERT: Now, live from New York, Anderson Cooper and AC 360.