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CNN Larry King Live

Interview with Levi Johnston

Aired April 22, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Levi Johnston in a prime time exclusive -- he fathered Sarah Palin's first grandchild and now blames her for what's gone wrong.

Did Sarah Palin try to hide her daughter's pregnancy?

Did she know the teenagers were having sex?

Does she let him see his own baby?

Plus, Duane "Dog" Chapman escapes death and he's here. A bullet fired straight at him last night just missed. The bounty hunter's exclusive firsthand account of what he says happened on a stakeout that almost cost him his life.

All right now on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

In Los Angeles, we welcome Levi Johnston to LARRY KING LIVE, the ex-fiance of Bristol Palin, the daughter of Governor Sarah Palin and the father -- he's the father, of course, of Bristol's son, Tripp.

How are you handling all of this -- this attention?

LEVI JOHNSTON, EX-FIANCE OF BRISTOL PALIN, FATHER OF BRISTOL'S SON, TRIPP: It's -- it's a little different with all the, you know, publicity and everything going on, and all the media. And I mean we've got people camped outside the house and in front of my sister's school and that kind of thing. It's pretty crazy.

KING: Are you surprised at it?

L. JOHNSTON: I never thought I'd be -- you know, I was a small kind of guy. I lived back in a small -- a small town. So I mean I never thought that would ever happen to me. And when she finally told, you know, everybody that Bristol was pregnant and stuff, I didn't think it was going to get this rough.

KING: But when the convention -- when the convention hit and all that, didn't you say to yourself, my gosh, I'm going to get caught in this?

I'm going to be on stage. I didn't ask for this. I mean I love this girl. I slept with her. But I didn't ask for this.

L. JOHNSTON: Right. KING: Didn't you think that?

L. JOHNSTON: A little bit, yes.

KING: When you were on stage, did you -- were you thinking at all about not marrying her?

L. JOHNSTON: Not marrying Bristol?

KING: Yes.

L. JOHNSTON: No. I mean at that -- at that time, you know, everything was going good. So I was -- I was planning to get married.

KING: What broke it up?

L. JOHNSTON: I think a lot had to do with, you know, just people -- a lot of people bothering us. And I think it kind of just, you know, got to us and we ended up just not seeing eye to eye with each other anymore and things got tough and (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: Did you do the breaking up?

L. JOHNSTON: Oh, it was a mutual thing. I think we both -- we both decided to.

KING: All right. You -- you're now doing interviews like this.


L. JOHNSTON: I don't know. I decided we were going to do this one. I mean we've seen -- I've seen a lot of your television shows. And it was just -- I thought it would be a great chance to come out and, you know, tell my side of the story. And I think a lot of people have the wrong impression.

KING: So to clear the deck, in a sense?


KING: All right. Let's go back.

Did the Palin family, did they seem close-knit?

How would -- what was it like for you dating in the atmosphere of the governor's daughter?

L. JOHNSTON: They always treated me like a son. I mean they were -- they were real nice to me. And I thought of her as like my second mother. You know, Todd was always, you know, a great guy and helped me out with a lot of things. So I mean they welcomed me.

KING: Was it -- did you like each other right away, you and Bristol?

L. JOHNSTON: Yes. I mean we were young and I think -- we met when we were really little. And I played hockey with her brother. And, you know, growing up and we went to school together. And I don't know, I always thought we'd probably get together at one point.

KING: One thing led to another.


KING: When it began to be sexual and romantic, did the Palins -- that's the key question I guess everybody is asking -- did the governor know?

L. JOHNSTON: You know, I'm not sure. That's -- that's a question I can't really answer. But, you know, I think...

KING: What do you think?

L. JOHNSTON: You know, she says she doesn't know, you know, But I don't know. If -- I think she'd probably know, you know?

KING: What about her husband?

Do you think he knew?

L. JOHNSTON: I would think so.

KING: Where -- was -- did sex occur in their house?

L. JOHNSTON: You know, Larry, that I'm a gentleman, you know. And I don't, you know, kiss and tell. So, you know, I don't think that really -- that really matters. I mean...

KING: And how about the part, though, that -- well, first you said you practiced safe sex most of the time, right?


KING: Most of the time.

L. JOHNSTON: Most of the time.

KING: We know that one time that didn't happen.

Were you surprised at the pregnancy?

L. JOHNSTON: A little bit, yes. It came as a bit of a shock.

KING: How did you tell Sarah?

L. JOHNSTON: We went over there and we had one of Bristol's friends over there. And we all kind of sat down on the couch and we ended up telling her that way.

KING: What did she say?

L. JOHNSTON: She was shocked. I mean she probably didn't really know what to say. I mean no -- no mother wants to hear that her pregnant -- her daughter is pregnant at the age of 18 years old.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Walt in Tarpon Springs, Florida: "Bristol said in an interview that telling young people to be abstinent is not realistic at all. Yet Governor Palin's people say Bristol is working to teach the lesson of abstinence. What's your opinion on all of that?"

L. JOHNSTON: You know, I'd probably have to agree with him. I think all teens, or most of them, are sexually active. So, I mean and...

KING: Do you think abstinence is unrealistic?


KING: You know, is it -- that it doesn't work?


KING: By the way, how does Bristol's father react to the news?

Fathers usually get angrier.

L. JOHNSTON: No. He -- he didn't get angry. I mean he was real cool with it. He was -- he wanted to, I don't know, kind of sit us down and tell us what we had coming to us. And, I don't know, he was great about it all.

KING: I interviewed Sarah Palin in November after the election. I asked her about Bristol's pregnancy and her response to it.



GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I looked at her and thought -- and I thought -- I thought, Bristol, honey, you're going to have to grow up really fast. And she is a strong and kind- hearted young woman. She's going to make a great mom. She -- she's very strong. She's going to be just fine.

But Bristol has an opportunity, at this point, also, to reach out to other young American women and let them know that these are absolutely less than ideal circumstances that she or any other unwed teenage mother are in. And it is not something to glamorize. It's not something to condone, if you will. Bristol has an opportunity to reach out to other young mothers and -- and help them and hopefully, not see such a prevalence, also, of unwed teenage mothers.


KING: Levi, was abortion ever considered?


KING: Giving up for adoption ever considered? L. JOHNSTON: Oh, no.

KING: When the two of you talked and the baby, Tripp, was born, was there ever a thought that you would not be the -- I mean not be the active father of that child?


KING: So what happened?

L. JOHNSTON: I don't know what happened and all that. I think somewhere along the lines, we just, you know, weren't hitting it off anymore and...

KING: But they won't let you see your kid?

L. JOHNSTON: No. I can go over there and see him. But it's -- now, you know, it's kind of an uncomfortable thing for me to go over there. You know, I want to be able to take him and do that kind of thing, go do the father thing with him and I can't.

KING: Why can't you?

L. JOHNSTON: You know, I'm not sure. You know I think...

KING: Do you have a lawyer?


KING: Why not?

I mean your mother is coming on with us later. I'll ask her. But it came up now.

Why wouldn't you hire a lawyer to fight for your rights as a father?

L. JOHNSTON: Well, you know, I think -- I don't want -- we're not sitting here -- we're not in a big fight with the Palins. I mean, I still like the family very much, you know. And I think we just -- I think we can work things out. I don't think either one of us want to go and go to lawyers and try to fight for custody and stuff like this.

KING: But then why can't you see -- why can't you take your baby?

It's your baby.

Why can't you take your baby for a weekend?

L. JOHNSTON: I don't know.

KING: But you're not interested in finding out legally why you can?

L. JOHNSTON: I am. I think if -- if it keeps going like this, I think we're going to have to.

KING: Does Levi want Bristol back?

Could they ever make a go of it now that their lives have been so exposed?

We'll ask him next.

Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A teenage, seemingly in love couple, are now a distant memory for Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her relationship with Levi Johnston, the father of Palin's grandson, has been the stuff of soap operas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The unborn child who briefly captivated the nation is here.

PALIN: Some of life's greatest opportunities come unexpectedly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The latest twist in what has become the Sarah Palin soap Oprah.


TYRA BANKS, HOST: Every time you practiced safe sex?

L. JOHNSTON: Most of the time.

BANKS: Most of the time.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eighteen-year-old Johnston says he believes Governor Palin was aware he and her daughter were having sex.


KING: Levi Johnston is our guest.

Now, your further reflection, you might have a lawyer?

L. JOHNSTON: Yes, I do.


So why not -- are you afraid that saying you have a lawyer might anger the Palins?

L. JOHNSTON: I don't want to stir anything up, but, you know... KING: But you have rights.


KING: And the only people who have the rights are you and -- and Bristol. I mean you're -- your former mother-in-law -- she was never really your mother-in-law. The grandmother has very little rights in this, right.

Do you plan to press forward?

L. JOHNSTON: Yes, I do.

KING: Don't you want to have your baby?

L. JOHNSTON: Very much.

KING: When was the last time you saw Tripp?

L. JOHNSTON: A couple weeks ago. That was the last time I got to have him, yes.

KING: But you have him only by seeing him in the house, right?

L. JOHNSTON: Occasionally, in the -- once in a blue moon, she'll let me take him out for a while.

KING: Do you call the house to see how he is?

L. JOHNSTON: Yes. I call and check up on him every once in a while. And, you know, she keeps the talk short, you know. But I -- I do check up on him.

KING: That sounds like, Levi, she's really angry at you. It sounds that way.


KING: Because if it was just a mutual breakup and a nice understanding, then you see your kid and it's like life goes on.


KING: She seems to be really ticked.

Is there something you did?

L. JOHNSTON: You know, I don't -- that might be the case, but I don't -- I don't see what it would be.

KING: In other words, you have no idea why she's angry?


KING: Did you ever ask her? L. JOHNSTON: I don't know. I think it -- a lot has to do with, you know, her and my sister. She doesn't trust who she hangs out with or what I'm -- you know, I don't know if she's scared to let me see him or something like that.

KING: She doesn't like your sister?

L. JOHNSTON: No. They've never hit it off. They fighted from day one.

KING: Your sister will be here in a little while.


KING: Have you spoken to the governor?

L. JOHNSTON: Not since -- I haven't talked to her for quite a while, actually.

KING: Have you asked to talk to her?

L. JOHNSTON: Not really, no.

KING: Well, wouldn't you want to know why -- what part she's playing in not letting her daughter see your son?

L. JOHNSTON: Yes, that would be -- that would be nice. I mean, my dad talks to Todd a lot. And after we did that first interview with Tyra, I mean, he hasn't -- he hasn't called, you know. And they just -- they just pretty much blew us off. So it's just -- you know, it's getting worse.

KING: Is there any chance the two of you could get together again?

L. JOHNSTON: You know, I don't see that ever happening. I just hope that we can come to an understanding and become friends and raise this baby together.

KING: When -- where were you when John McCain announced who his vice presidential choice was?

L. JOHNSTON: Well, when they -- when it first came out and everyone knew, I was actually sheep hunting out on the Alaska range with my...

KING: You were sheep herding?

L. JOHNSTON: Sheep hunting with my father.

KING: So how did you hear the news?

L. JOHNSTON: Well, I got back and, you know, I had quite a few messages on my phone. And I listened to them and found out what was going on. And Bristol and the family had already been gone. They already left. And, you know, they told me they wanted me to come down there, it was like two days, you know?

So I went home, packed my stuff and went down to them.

KING: Now, you had to say to yourself, Levi, my life has changed.


KING: The world has changed.

How did you feel?

L. JOHNSTON: It was -- it was a lot. I don't know how to explain like what I was feeling at that time. I didn't think it was quite real. I didn't know what I was getting myself into when they actually told me that, until I went down there and saw how it -- saw how it all worked out. It was different.

KING: Did the GOP, the Republican Party, have any say in what you did, movements?

L. JOHNSTON: You know, they -- they told me that, you know, they gave me advice of what would be smart. You know, don't talk to the press, you know, that kind of thing. But they...

KING: They didn't control you?

L. JOHNSTON: No, not really.

KING: Did Levi vote?

Is he registered?

What about that Bristol tattoo?

We'll be back in 60 seconds.


KING: We're back with Levi Johnston.

In the next segment, we will meet his sister and mother.

Did you vote?


KING: So you're registered to vote.

Did you vote for...

L. JOHNSTON: Sarah Palin.

KING: OK. Just -- just wanted to check.

L. JOHNSTON: Yes. KING: Are you very interested in politics?

L. JOHNSTON: You know, I -- I'll be honest with you, I don't know a whole lot about it. And before all this, I really wasn't at all.

And, you know, so I'm starting to get there.

KING: Did you like John McCain?

L. JOHNSTON: I did. I mean he was -- he's a war hero and he's a great citizen.

KING: Was he friendly to you?

L. JOHNSTON: He was. He was a great guy.

KING: When they made the announcement -- when they made the announcement of your mar -- that you were going to get married, was a date selected?

Did you ever have a date?

L. JOHNSTON: You know, we were thinking it was going to be in the summer -- you know, a couple months after we found out she was pregnant. And, you know, we decided let's do it next year. We don't need to rush things that -- and so we didn't really have a set date.

KING: Were you present at Tripp's birth?

L. JOHNSTON: Yes, I was there.

KING: Did you cut the cord?

L. JOHNSTON: No, I couldn't do that.


KING: What was it like?

L. JOHNSTON: It was -- it was cool. I mean, I never thought I'd be there, you know. I didn't -- I wasn't expecting to have a kid this early. But I thought I would always be, you know, grossed out. But it was -- it was exciting.

KING: Did you feel you were ready to be a father?

L. JOHNSTON: Well, I was ready.

KING: What do you want to do in life?

What do you want to do as a business, a profession?

L. JOHNSTON: You know, my -- you know, when I was growing up, everyone in my family is an electrician, so that was always my plan.

KING: Do you study that?

L. JOHNSTON: Yes. And now I just -- you know, that's what I'll fall back on. And we'll see what happens. But right now, I'm just more interested in taking care of my kid.

KING: We told the Palin camp that Levi Johnston would be our guest tonight and asked for a comment. We got this response today from Megan Stapleton, the Palin family spokesperson: "Bristol is focused on going to college, raising Tripp and advocating abstinence."

Earlier this month, on April 3rd, Miss. Stapleton issued this comment in connection with Levi's appearance on "The Tyra Banks Show": "We're disappeared that Levi and his family, in a quest for fame, attention and fortune, are engaging in flat out lies, gross exaggeration and even distortion of Bristol and Levi's relationship."

We will take a break, come back and we'll meet the sister and the mother.

Don't go away.


KING: Levi Johnston remains with us. We're now joined by his mother, Sherri, and sister, Mercede, all here in Los Angeles.

I promised to ask, the tattoo, do you still have it?

L. JOHNSTON: I've got it.

KING: (INAUDIBLE) let me see it. It says Bristol, right?


KING: Why did you do that?

L. JOHNSTON: You know, I was -- I was hunting again and I lost the ring that she gave me. And...



L. JOHNSTON: And it was bad so I...

KING: The worst thing you could do.

L. JOHNSTON: I figured...

KING: This would make up for it.

L. JOHNSTON: ...this way I wouldn't lose it and it would get me out of a bind, you know.

KING: All right, Sherry, what's -- what's all this happened to you? What do you make of all of this?

SHERRY JOHNSTON, LEVI'S MOTHER: It's a whirlwind. I -- I still haven't grasped my whole mind around all this.

KING: Were you mad at the pregnancy, angry?

S. JOHNSTON: No. No, I wasn't.

KING: Why not?

You're the mother of a young boy.

S. JOHNSTON: He's talked about babies a lot since him and Bristol has been together. And he's always been playing with kids. And I've always wanted to be a grandma ever since mine grew up so.

KING: Do you think he would be a good father?

S. JOHNSTON: Since day one. Absolutely.

KING: Do you like Bristol?

S. JOHNSTON: Yes. Yes, I do.

KING: Do you -- I can't find out -- we haven't found out.

What went wrong, do you think?

S. JOHNSTON: I'm still trying to figure that out. I don't know.

KING: Do you think you might have been in the equation, Mercede, since Levi said that Bristol didn't like you?

MERCEDE JOHNSTON, LEVI'S SISTER: You know, I'm -- I'm not too sure. I think it's -- it's a big part because of my friends. But I don't understand why.

KING: What kind of friends?

M. JOHNSTON: Friends that have previously dated my brother or -- you know, they still talk. And there's kind of a jealousy issue between her and my friends.

KING: What did you make of all of the attention this got?

M. JOHNSTON: I just kind of tried to avoid it. It got pretty chaotic.

KING: You mean the paparazzi follow you around?

M. JOHNSTON: They follow me to school, to the store. So you just -- I just told them to quit it.

KING: What do your friends say?

M. JOHNSTON: They know. My best friend, she knows. So they just kind of put their head down and ignore it.

KING: Do you have any anger at any of the -- at the parents?

Do you have any angry at the governor?

Do you?

S. JOHNSTON: Myself?

KING: Yes.


KING: Well, somebody is not letting your son see your grandson. You've got to go somewhere with that.

S. JOHNSTON: Well, that's what we're all trying to -- to find out, what to do.

KING: Have you contacted them?

S. JOHNSTON: Not personally. I have talked to Bristol, seeing if I could take Tripp, come over and get him, bring him to the house. But that hasn't happened.

KING: What did she say?

S. JOHNSTON: She said that she would call me back.

KING: And didn't?


KING: Do you have a guess as to why they're being this way?

Just why don't you think Levi can see his son or he can see him, but once on occasion and it has to be in the house?

S. JOHNSTON: I don't know. Things started changing different, I would say, I noticed in November. Things were starting to chill down, not getting as friendly and I'm not sure...

KING: And you don't have any idea why?


KING: All right.

Now, he says you do have a lawyer?

S. JOHNSTON: Yes, we do.

KING: All right.

Don't you think you should now press for his rights as a father? S. JOHNSTON: Well, that is what we're going to have to do next. We were just hoping that we wouldn't have to. You know, we really didn't have to want to go this way. I was hoping that we could all come to an agreement and all, you know, get together and be there for Tripp.

KING: Is the lawyer going to file charges?

S. JOHNSTON: We haven't got that far yet.

KING: Levi, do you and Bristol have a formal child custody agreement?

It's our understanding that in Alaska, both parents have equal rights regarding custody unless a court orders it otherwise.

L. JOHNSTON: No, we...

KING: So according to the law, you and Bristol have the same right to Tripp.

L. JOHNSTON: Right. No, we don't have anything like that. We haven't went to court or done anything at all.

KING: Why not?

Mercede, why not?

M. JOHNSTON: I don't know. I hope it happens soon, to be honest. I want that baby in my life just as much as he does.

KING: So are -- and you're not -- are you hesitant to force action?

Do you feel that you'll get the wrath...

S. JOHNSTON: Well, I guess we're going to...

KING: ...of the governor or what?

S. JOHNSTON: Well, yes. I mean we don't want to -- we want to keep this on the lowdown and have, you know, not start trouble. But, obviously, if things don't change, that's our next action when we get back is to go forward with that, I guess.

KING: Because you have every right to go forward with it.

What is Tripp's last name?

L. JOHNSTON: Johnston.

KING: Do you know that for sure?

L. JOHNSTON: It's on the birth certificate, yes.

KING: Are you sure they acknowledged that and didn't change it, because they could change it?

L. JOHNSTON: Well, they could have but the last time I saw it, that was his name.

KING: Have you been with your grandson?

S. JOHNSTON: I've...

KING: Have you seen or held your grandson?

S. JOHNSTON: Oh, yes. Yes. And about a month ago, I got to watch him. And Bristol went back to school and work. And what I assumed was I was going to be able to watch him for like three days a week. And I was really excited for that. And I watched him for two days. And then Sadie came back from a trip from Florida and some things got stirred up. And I haven't got to see him since then.

KING: And she stirred up -- their feelings toward her stirred up?

S. JOHNSTON: There was an article came out in a magazine...

KING: Saying?

S. JOHNSTON: ...from Sadie. It was a...

M. JOHNSTON: Just saying that I was smashing Bristol, which I wasn't smashing Bristol. I just think it's -- I think it's stupid that I can't see my nephew and that my brother can't see his own son.

KING: Levi, do you and Mercede ever fight over Bristol?

L. JOHNSTON: Do we ever fight over her?

KING: Yes, arguments about who feels what about Bristol.

L. JOHNSTON: You know, when we were dating and stuff, we -- we fought a lot. I mean they wouldn't get along.

KING: You didn't like Bristol?

M. JOHNSTON: Well, the main thing that I had a problem with is while -- while they were dating in the summer, he wasn't allowed to talk to me because Bristol didn't like me. So my brother wasn't allowed to talk to me, which was stupid, because he's my best friend. He's my big brother, so that -- that hurt.

KING: How did you feel when she asked you to do that, not to talk to your sister?

L. JOHNSTON: You know, it was -- she really never like said no, you can't talk to her like but...

M. JOHNSTON: Yes, she did.

L. JOHNSTON: ...that was basically what she was meaning, you know?


KING: And so she did.

S. JOHNSTON: And it worked.


KING: Oh, he didn't talk to you?


KING: OK, Levi.


KING: More with Levi and family.

And just ahead, Duane "Dog" Chapman on that scary situation last night. He's here to tell us about he -- how he was almost on the receiving end of a bullet.

Stick around.


KING: We're back with Levi Johnston and family. Levi, many of our viewers have something to say to you. I am sure you can understand some of them are not happy. Our David Theall is here with their comments and questions from our blogs. David.

DAVID THEALL, CNN BLOG CORRESPONDENT: Larry, this is the blog, of course, at The conversation is happening right now.

Some of the criticisms that we're hearing about Levi on the blog tonight: aren't his 15 minutes up? Somebody else says "Levi, shame on you for going public with such private matters." Yet another person says, "this kind of behavior does nothing to help your little boy." And a question, also, Larry, for Levi from the blog. This comes from somebody who asks "wouldn't any time you spend with your child be worth whatever hassles are presented?" Says this person, he's a father whose job takes him away from his children, and he says he would give anything to be able to hold them every day.

KING: Levi, would you agree with that?

L. JOHNSTON: You know, I don't. I think that it shouldn't be like that. I should be able to have rights with him, you know, come get him whenever I want. I shouldn't have to like --

KING: That's what they're saying, nothing should stop that. In other words, the father said, you go bang on the door. You have a lawyer. You file a summons. You bring her into court. That's what legalities do and then a judge decides who sees this baby and when. I'm sure anybody would agree with that. The governor would agree with that. You get it resolved in court, I would think. We have a Facebook question for Levi from CNN's Facebook page. It's from Crystal. She wants to know if the Palins are making it difficult to function in your role as Tripp's dad, have you been able to experience any of the joys of fatherhood?

L. JOHNSTON: When he was first born, I got to be with him a lot. I know I'm missing out a lot on his life right now. And it's sad. I don't -- I'll never get that time back.

KING: How old is he now?

L. JOHNSTON: About four months.

KING: Have you spent time with him?

M. JOHNSTON: Yes, I have. I spent little time with him. But the time I have has been wonderful. I try to endure it, take as many pictures and make sure I have memories with him, because I don't know how much time will be left.

KING: An e-mail question from Russell in Wilson, Oklahoma, "Levi, I know this is personal, but how much child support do you have to pay each month?"

L. JOHNSTON: We -- I'm not doing any child support right now until we go to court. I have everything my boy needs back home, diapers, toys, everything. Once we go to court and deal with that --

KING: How do you respond to the other side's claim, after the appearance on the previous shows, that you're doing this for fame and fortune?

L. JOHNSTON: You know, I wasn't -- I didn't ask to be thrown into this, so I'm not out here looking for fame. I'm just trying to get my story out their. Let the people know what's really going on. So, you know, I'm not looking to get famous, be a celebrity. That's not what I'm doing.

KING: Sherry, do you have thoughts as to why this happened? All right. They broke up. Why? It would bog my mind.

S. JOHNSTON: I think they were doing great. Then when this got thrown out that Levi was dad, the next day we woke up, paparazzi, everything was there, following him around. Everything got -- it's bad enough being a teen, trying to keep a relationship going. Then you throw in pregnancy.

And that's -- that is major. Then you throw in, you know, being followed by media and all -- just tremendous amount of -- on their shoulders, where they couldn't think. They didn't have time.

KING: Mercede, this would just be a thought. You have no facts, that the governor is affecting Bristol's treatment of Levi? M. JOHNSTON: I'm not too sure. I can't really answer that. I haven't really been a part of Levi and Bristol's relationship, because of the distance she but between Levi and I.

KING: The Bristol that you know, Levi, does it shock you she won't let you be with her son?

L. JOHNSTON: No, I think ever since that campaign she's changed a lot.

KING: She did?

JOHNSTON: Yes. That wasn't the Bristol I knew before she got pregnant.

KING: Did it go to her head?

L. JOHNSTON: That's the only thing I can think of. She's totally different now.

KING: Totally different?

L. JOHNSTON: In a big way.

KING: There is talk of Levi modeling or even writing a book. Is that a practical plan for supporting a child? That's next.


KING: And Palins are telling me that now when they go back to Alaska, they intend to take some legal action, the right to see the boy. Right?

S. JOHNSTON: The Johnstons?

KING: Yes. You, are going to take --

S. JOHNSTON: That is the step we're going to have to go.

KING: And to be fair here, we've not heard from the Palins on this. I expect they may dispute Levi's story about visitation issues with his son. If they wish to contact us, we'll of course give equal time. About that modeling, acting and money making, any truth?

L. JOHNSTON: You know, Larry, there's been a lot of people coming and calling, a lot of offers out there for me to do a lot of things. Nothing is set in stone. I haven't signed or done anything. I haven't made a dime off anything I've done yet. So for them to say I'm out for fame and fortune, that's ridiculous.

KING: If someone came to you, with an offer to, let's say, model --

L. JOHNSTON: My guy, Tank Jones, they can talk to him about it.

KING: Tank Jones, he's here with you, he's your PR guy, representative?


KING: So far, you haven't made a dime?

L. JOHNSTON: I haven't made no money yet.

S. JOHNSTON: Tank Jones has been there for us and Rex Butler. We couldn't have done it without them. They've been keeping us strong going through all of this with the media.

KING: And how did you get him to represent you, Tank?

S. JOHNSTON: Well, we needed a lawyer, and we got two.

KING: And they sent Tank to you?


KING: Tank's a lawyer?

S. JOHNSTON: My lawyer is Rex Butler. And Tank is partnered with him, and they -- they are helping us through everything.

KING: Sherry, in December, shortly before Tripp's birth, you were arrested on drug charges, right? What is the status of that case?

S. JOHNSTON: I can't go there right now. When I have my day in court, then I would love to be able to set the record straight. There's a lot of misconception out there, but I can't go any further than that right now.

KING: You couldn't say -- are you innocent of the charges?

S. JOHNSTON: If anyone would like to get more information, they could talk to my lawyer, Rex Butler.

KING: And where is he?

S. JOHNSTON: In Anchorage, Alaska.

KING: Rex Butler. As soon as the news about Bristol's pregnancy broke, the story became fodder for late night comedy. Here's a sample.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: Thank you, and I must say your brother Steven is my favorite Baldwin brother.

I want to take this opportunity to say live from New York, it's Saturday night.



KING: What did you make of all of that, Levi, when it was going on, on the weekly thing, and certainly on the nightly shows?

L. JOHNSTON: It was different. I don't know what to think about it all.

KING: Was it hard?

L. JOHNSTON: Yes. It was distracting, I guess.

KING: Sherry, how did you take it?

S. JOHNSTON: I don't know. Same, I guess.

KING: Goes with the territory?


KING: You come to accept it?


KING: How's your life, Mercede. Do you want to go to college?

M. JOHNSTON: Oh, absolutely. I'm not too sure where yet. I've been looking to a couple different places for medical school.

KING: Want to become a doctor?

M. JOHNSTON: I want to become a surgeon.

KING: A surgeon. It will be in Alaska?

M. JOHNSTON: No, I want to go out of state, hopefully.

KING: And you're through with high school, right? Or aren't you?

L. JOHNSTON: No, I haven't taken my final test, no.

KING: Are you going to do that?


KING: I thank you, all of you, for coming. Good luck to you.

S. JOHNSTON: Thank you, Larry, for having us.

KING: Thank you, Mercede. Levi Johnston, Sherry Johnston, Mrecede Johnston.

Someone took a shot at TV's bounty hunter last night. Duane Chapman says the man he was after tried to take him out. See you back here with Duane and Beth Chapman in 60 seconds.


KING: A real-life drama last night could have taken the life of one of TV's most popular reality stars, Duane Dog Chapman. On the lookout for a suspect, a man who jumped bond; when the bounty hunter found him, something bad went down. Listen to this.


DUANE CHAPMAN, "DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER": He tried to shoot us. One shot. We lost him. He was on a high-speed motorcycle. We kept on it, kept on it. Went home. We got a call, came back out again. And we literally ran him down, Leland and Beth. He told me, if I wouldn't have been betrayed, we would have never, ever caught me. I think he's going to pay a lesson right now. It's time to pay the piper and I believe he's ready.


KING: Before we get all of the details of last night, have you ever been shot before, Duane?

CHAPMAN: Years ago, yes, sir, like over 20 years ago. But of course not lately, no. So that was kind of stunning.

KING: Dog and Beth are here to answer this. Will they continue to put their lives on the line for a TV show? They're with us, next.


KING: Back with Duane Dog Chapman, his wife Beth Chapman. They are in Denver. Duane Dog Chapman says that a fugitive tried to shoot him when Dog was trying to apprehend him in Colorado Springs last night. Authorities later arrested the man. Dog was trying to apprehend him because his bail on an attempted murder charge had been revoked. Of course, he's the famed bounty hunter, and that's what they do. What happened last night. First, who was the man you were after Duane?

CHAPMAN: He was -- what was his name?

BETH CHAPMAN, WIFE OF DUANE CHAPMAN: His name was Hong Nguyen (ph).

CHAPMAN: Hong Nguyen, sir. We first approached him when he fired the shot. Then he got away from us on a motorcycle, about a 750 Kawasaki. In Colorado, and in most states, Larry, anymore, you don't want to pursue these guys with a vehicle when they're running. We stayed on him three, four hours later. We finally tricked someone that knows him to trick him back to a location. We all got him again. Actually Leland, my son, and Beth did the actual takedown.

We finally got him five hours after the initial meeting. And he's in jail now in Colorado Springs.

KING: Do you get credit for the bounty? CHAPMAN: Yes, sir, we do. We actually caught him ourself. We do get credit. What we actually do is the bail bondsman that put up the bond doesn't now have to pay the money.

KING: You only had, as I understand it, a pepper-ball gun for your defense. Beth, why don't you guys carry firearms?

B. CHAPMAN: Well, as you know, Larry, we just don't believe in lethal force. We don't believe in killing for money. And, you know, the bounty hunter business is -- a defendant will flee, and it is our job to return them. So it isn't our job to go out there and kill them. It is our job to capture them.

So Dog has a felony conviction that he's had for 35 years now. So we've never had the luxury of carrying fire arms or, you know, things that have lethal force. So we always used our smarts and our brains, and alternative ways of capturing fugitives. That's been or forte for many years.

KING: Dog, frankly, were you scared?

CHAPMAN: Well, yes, sir, kind of, because he was out of range with the pepper-ball gun. I started shooting it, and he was out of range. If you're not scared, you're -- I don't know if you should use the word scared. I was worried and very cautious, you know, until after we got him apprehended. But once you start thinking about it, Larry, after like -- where did the bullet go and you kind of hear it? That's I think when you start getting worried about it. But during -- there's so much adrenaline going when you see the guy.

We had hunted him for two days, so to spot him, adrenaline kind of takes over the fear. But you've got to watch this, because also adrenaline kind of turns into stupidity, if you don't watch it. So, I mean, we know what business we're in, and we have faith that god will keep us alive.

KING: What about a high-speed chase? Why get involved in that?

B. CHAPMAN: Well, you know, the high-speed chase happened -- we did go on some sort of chase, and we don't take the speeds that are beyond the speed limit. These are residential areas. These are 7:00 in the evening. There's children running back and forth, playing basketball. You know, it's just not in the community's safety for us to be taking a guy on a high-speed chase.

If we're going at fast speeds, that means our defendant is going to go at even faster speeds. So we have to call off our chase at that point and we have to regroup and find him again.

KING: When did the police get involved, Dog?

CHAPMAN: The police got involved after the neighbors, who witnessed him fire a shot at us, came. And then after we apprehended him, the police -- he had a --

B. CHAPMAN: The police came right after the first gunshots were fired. Once the first shots were fired, the neighbors ran inside, called the police, and said there was a gun-fight going on in front of their apartment building.

KING: Was this all captured on TV for your show, Duane?

CHAPMAN: Yes, it was, most of it. We had two different crews at two different things. I think we missed a couple shots, but the rest of it is going to be -- it is going to be two, three months down the road. You don't get the next week of the show -- so hopefully.

KING: We'll be back with more of Duane Dog Chapman and Beth Chapman, who are happy they're alive, after these words. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with the Dog and Beth. We should mention this, of course, investigators in Colorado Springs have found no gun, shell casings or bullet holes at the scene. How do you explain that, Dog?

CHAPMAN: Well, one of the boys who saw the pistol said it was a revolver. That doesn't kick out a shell casing. You're right, the couldn't find it, the guy who did it. The officer explained to me last night, sometimes when they have a body, and of course the body is deceased, if they don't find the gun, they don't charge the guy.

So I don't expect them to charge the guy with it, because there's no evidence. He got away, hid the gun. But what we had to do -- once he fired that shot, he was like a wounded animal. He was out there maniacing (ph) in Colorado Springs, anybody who was next to him. So I had to capture the guy.

She's crazy. She wouldn't let me go to sleep and go home. It was midnight. I said, Beth, I'm getting older. We've got to get this guy, because he's nuts. So finally at 1:30 a.m., we caught him. We got to bed at 4:00 in the morning. So the main thing is he's in jail.

B. CHAPMAN: The other reason is they didn't find any of those other things on the scene is because that crime scene was quickly overtaken by our fans. There was at least 100 people on the scene. The police were having a hard time cordoning off the block and they couldn't do a thorough seventh of the whole parking lot.

KING: What has the man been charged with, do you know?

B. CHAPMAN: Yes, domestic violence. He's been charged with a felon in possession of a firearm by a previous offender. And he's been charged with attempted murder.

CHAPMAN: Which they'll probably drop the attempted murder.

KING: Have the police questioned you, Dog?

CHAPMAN: Yes, sir, when they cake out to the initial crime scene, they questioned us, the whole team, everybody. Yes, sir. B. CHAPMAN: When we cause Mr. Nguyen and put him in the backseat of our car, he said -- Dog said to him, what are you doing shooting at my family? You can't even do that. I'm getting upset that you tried to take shots at my family. And our fugitive basically told Duane, I'm very sorry about that. So, you know, people just get desperate, Larry.

KING: Dog, have you faced death a lot?

CHAPMAN: Well, you know, physically or career-wise? I think both, you know. My god, I mean, as you once told me, can we leave the controversy down a little bit? Hopefully that will lead me today. Hopefully I'll stay alive. I'm trying to.

KING: This doesn't halt production in any way, does it?

CHAPMAN: Oh, no, sir. This gets us on a role. You know, we're on three weeks, off two. And this is our second of the three. Once you catch a guy like this, then the actual hard ones seem like they're easier. This was a very hard guy to catch. Finally we got him. It just like makes you on a roll, opens the door for bigger and better things.

B. CHAPMAN: The criminals are a lot more violent these days.

KING: Dog, frankly, do you ever rethink your career?

CHAPMAN: You know, sometimes I wish I would have been -- I'm not just saying this. But I would have liked to have had your job. I know you've been there 50 years --

B. CHAPMAN: We'll trade positions. You can be the bounty hunter.

CHAPMAN: No, I wish you would train me to take your job when you retire.

KING: You've got the wrong guy. I don't know how you do what you do.

B. CHAPMAN: Yes, it's tough sometimes.

CHAPMAN: Thank you, sir. Thank you. I think that god made me to be the bounty hunter, and I think I picked the right career. It's fed a lot of children. And it's kept us happy, and A&E has been very good to us. I think I picked the right place.

B. CHAPMAN: I don't think we could do anything else.

KING: Ever catch the wrong guy?

CHAPMAN: No, sir, because in -- in this business, I think they would --

B. CHAPMAN: Put you in jail. CHAPMAN: -- put you in jail if you caught the wrong guy. A lot of guys are twins. You've got to watch it. It's very complicated. That's why in the beginning of our show, it says don't try to do this at home. You have to be a professional.

B. CHAPMAN: You have to be supervised.

CHAPMAN: You have to be a professional.

KING: Thank you, guys. Good luck.

B. CHAPMAN: You're so welcome, Larry. Thanks for having us.

KING: Beyonce will be with us tomorrow night. The famed Beyonce on LARRY KING LIVE. But right now, Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?