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CNN Larry King Weekend

Encore Presentation: Interview With Andy Rooney

Aired July 28, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: He's not just another pretty face. OK, he's not a pretty face. Some call him cranky; we call him one of a kind.

Andy Rooney is next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.

Thanks for joining us. We had a heck of an hour with Andy Rooney last month. The outspoken and controversial commentator for "60 Minutes" leaves you laughing and kind of gasping at the same time. Our show started that night with the update on the disappearance of Elizabeth Smart. The 14-year-old Utah girl was kidnapped from her home early that morning, and we started by getting Andy's take on a very disturbing case.


KING: Does it seem to you, Andy, on that subject, that there's been more of this, lately?

ANDY ROONEY, 60 MINUTES: Well, there's something strange about that story, though. As a reporter, you asked some good questions. But there are a lot more questions to be asked. It doesn't ring true.

KING: No ransom note.

ROONEY: There are a lot of questions you'd like to ask. I don't know to ask them.

KING: But why the guy got in the house? How he got in that house?

ROONEY: Yes, a lot of strange elements to the story, it seems to me, from what little we know of it.

KING: And the stories, do there seem to be more of them? More abductions? Or am I just...

ROONEY: Do I have to say yes? No, there don't seem to be any more than there ever were, no.


ROONEY: There've always been these stories like that.

KING: Andy Rooney, do you ever think of hanging it up?

ROONEY: I don't know why anybody would do that. I'm having the time of my life. I enjoy it. I have enough to eat, even if I didn't work. But I love it. Why would I quit?

KING: Because many -- not many broadcasters are working over the age of 80, right? In fact, they're all on your show.

ROONEY: I love having Mike a little -- a few months older than I am.

KING: But, I mean, most people think of 80 as a time to just...

ROONEY: Well, they think of 60 as a time -- yes.

I never understood retirement. What is the attraction of retirement? I go down there to Florida and look around and I said, my God, who wants this? Not me.

KING: Andy Rooney's our guest for the hour. We'll be taking your phone calls. His, by the way, most recent book, hardcover, "My War" -- when is it coming to paperback?

ROONEY: I don't know. They told me the other day that...


KING: ... but you forgot.

ROONEY: ... they were going send -- put out a paperback. I'm working on another book for next fall.


ROONEY: Oh, it's a collection of essays. I like the essay form.

KING: Hear you out (ph).

One of the great writers and deliverers of that writing, as well. Andy Rooney is our special guest. Don't go away.


KING: Always a great pleasure to have him with us. The last time he was here was November of 2000. So we should ask, where you were on 9/11?

ROONEY: I was in my office at West 57th Street. We have a window that looks directly south. We could -- not actually see the buildings, but we could see the smoke and everything.

KING: Remember what your first thoughts were?

ROONEY: Well, I thought it was a plane that had -- a small plane that was -- somebody had lost control of. It didn't occur to me that it was a terrorist attack. KING: And when you learned -- when the second plane went in, obviously...

ROONEY: Oh, it became immediately apparent, yes.

KING: Did you realize then that this world is upside down?

ROONEY: Well, I'm not a quick realizer of things like that.

KING: You're slow. What did you think?

ROONEY: I just sat there looking at television, sort of dumb and thought how horrible it was. I had -- the grand aspects of it did not occur to me regular -- instantly. I had no notion of this terrorist network that existed. I knew the were a lot of people in the world who didn't like us, but I had no idea that it was as well organized as it apparently is.

That's one of the amazing facets of this terrible event: how well they did it. Incredible. The competence of these evil people.

KING: Yes, the competence of evil people. That's a good way to put it.

Yet, with what we're -- all we're learning, are you surprised at some of the inability we've shown on part of this FBI/CIA thing?

ROONEY: Well, the FBI and the CIA have been inept at an awful lot of things for a great many years, and it just took something like this to reveal it to the American public.

KING: So you're not shocked?

ROONEY: Not shocked at all. Not surprised, no.

KING: Why do you think they're -- they don't communicate with each other?

ROONEY: I suppose it was some power struggles that one felt superior to the other. And I don't know what the relationship is between the two -- whether there is any kind of enmity at all, I don't know.

KING: Dan Rather was here last night, as you know. And he has shown concern that we...

ROONEY: Yes, he was good. I saw him.

KING: Patriotism has run amok, prompting journalists to shy away from asking tough questions. Dan said that to the BBC.

Do you agree?

ROONEY: I do so agree. And I haven't agreed with Dan Rather so much anything in the last 25 years as that. I just -- I mean, I don't wear an American flag in my button hole. And I challenge anybody who does to prove that he's a better or more loving American than I am.

And I just think that patriotism has so many of the same characteristics as religion has that we've got to be very careful about using it to the extent we do. It's -- I mean, we got a great country here. I mean, how could you not love being an American?

But I didn't have much to do with making it as good as it is. I enjoy being here. I was lucky. I was lucky to be born in this country. It wasn't anything that I did. And I just -- it is as if these people who have flags all over are taking credit for how great this country is. I object.

KING: When the people who came here by -- maybe going in the water 90 miles from Cuba, Vietnam or England or overseas, they wanted to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We were lucky.

ROONEY: Right.

KING: Do you think wearing -- but didn't you think we needed something following 9/11?

ROONEY: Well, we all have a necessity for ceremony in our lives, and symbols, yes, I do think. I mean, if I'm abroad and I see the American flag flying in Moscow, I mean, I get a tingle. And I'm susceptible to that patriotic sense. But I suppose we needed something to rally around. But I just think shoving our greatness into the face of the world is wrong.

KING: Do you think Dan was right when he said that he probably, and himself included, backed away from being tough in areas he should have been tougher, sooner?

ROONEY: Absolutely. You don't dare do it. I mean, there are things that you are reluctant to write because you don't want to be disliked; you don't want to be accused of being unpatriotic; you don't want to be accused of being a bad American. Yes, I heard him say that. And it was very interested.

I think a lot of interviewers have backed off being tough. And it's a shame. I mean, Ashcroft has put the fear of God into reporters.

KING: And done it under the veil of patriotism?

ROONEY: Yes, yes, of course.

KING: That you're not patriotic...

ROONEY: You're a bad American if you ask a question.

Why -- I mean, the notion that we must love everything in this country or get out and go someplace else is ridiculous. I mean, if you -- the best thing a patriotic American can do is to look and be critical and find out what's wrong and try to make it better. That's what a patriotic American does.

KING: And ask the questions that need to be asked.

ROONEY: Absolutely.

KING: Are you concerned about what this does -- are you concerned about censorship coming in America? Do you see that around the corner?

ROONEY: I see -- I mean, I think George W. Bush is a good American. He's not going to use these new laws we have coming in. But I mean, who down the line -- if we get these -- give our security people the right to invade our lives, maybe the Bush administration won't use them badly. But what's going to happen 10, 20 -- the next administration? These things will still be in place. I mean, that's how dictatorships get started in any country.

KING: And they play off the fear of people who say, we were enough worried to allow this to occur.

ROONEY: I can't get over how accepting the American public is of some of these. I can't get over how they accept they're not allowing journalists to cover the war in Afghanistan. I mean, they aren't getting any pictures, and I don't think the American public even knows they aren't getting stories. I mean, there ain't going to be no Ernie Pyle coming out of this war, because they won't let anybody close enough to be Ernie Pyle.

KING: You covered war, right? Did they let you go anywhere in World War...

ROONEY: I was -- went in four days after the invasion of Normandy. The first army, which had 17 divisions, three, four tank divisions, and the rest infantry divisions. They set up. They would take over a chateau. And we would use the dining room of the chateau for eating purposes, and we set up our typewriters, about 25 correspondents.

And they gave us shelter, they gave us food and they gave us transportation, and they gave us some help if we wanted. But we didn't have to ask anybody if we wanted to go somewhere -- go up to the front. We could go as far front as we dared go.

KING: Oh really?

ROONEY: And then come back and write our story.

KING: And you could talk to generals and privates?

ROONEY: Absolutely. We could talk to -- you can't get anywhere near a soldier now, a reporter.

KING: But their side, Andy, says that you ask a question, a certain thing may be answered a certain way, and that people who are responsible for 9/11 are going to learn things.

ROONEY: Oh well, we all know -- we had two censors in the press camp. But we all know what the rules were. We weren't going to write anything that helped the Germans. And that was their only -- we couldn't give troop movements or positions, or how many of -- American troops there were.

But we could write anything else.

KING: Andy Rooney is our guest. As we go to break, here are Andy's -- some recent thoughts on /New Yorkers post-9/11.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 Minutes")

ROONEY: The rest of our country has been great to New York since the attack. New Yorkers are being consoled, felt sorry for, sympathized with, even loved.

It's a strange experience because they are unaccustomed to being cared for and fussed over. They hardly know what to make of it.

The biggest change in New York since the terrorist attack is in the attitude of those people who inhabit it. They are nicer to each other. They are saying "good morning" to neighbors to whom they had not previously nodded. Strangers not so strange. The shared sense of loss and bereavement has brought them together.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 Minutes")

ROONEY: You don't have to be Catholic to feel bad about what's happening in the Catholic Church. I don't think Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians or even atheists are taking any pleasure from it. No one's gloating.

At first, the story seemed to be about just one bad apple in Boston who had sexually abused a lot of young boys. Then it slowly became clear, one story after another, that the problem was bigger than that. That it exists almost everywhere there are Catholic churches. Church choirs were a hunting ground for pedophile priests.

Catholics are going to continue to be loyal Catholics. But surveys show that what they can't forgive is that their church officials knew and covered up this mess.


KING: Why did they, Andy, do you think?

ROONEY: Well, they have this institution that they wanted to keep intact, and they thought this was the best way to do it. They were...

KING: Were you surprised?

ROONEY: I was surprised at the scope of it, yes.

KING: What do you think about the actions they're trying to take now?

ROONEY: Well, they haven't done a good job. It has been a bumbling effort. And they seem to continue to bumble. It's surprising how they need some strong direction. Of course, they don't get it from the pope because the pope is in no condition to give it. And so they are fumbling.

KING: Are you Catholic?

ROONEY: I refuse to answer that question on grounds it may incriminate me.

KING: Should the pope resign?

ROONEY: Of course he should resign. He's incapable of doing his job. He's in desperate physical condition.

KING: Why do you think -- I mean, the logical thing, you would think, is to report something like this to the police. I mean, that would seem so logical. Someone's accused of doing a terrible thing to a child.

ROONEY: Absolutely, it should have been reported to the police. And some of them -- some of the Catholic divisions have said that that's what should happen. There have been some good statements.

KING: But aren't you surprised that some didn't? Or...

ROONEY: Oh, you get into a thing like that, Larry, and the guy lives next door to you, and you know him, and he's basically a decent guy, you think, and he's nice to his mother, and you don't want to do this to him. You know how it -- I mean, all sorts of ramifications to a story like that. That's why they didn't report it.

KING: What do you make of India/Pakistan?

ROONEY: I wrote a column yesterday, and I said I should write something about India/Pakistan. And the only -- I mean, I started by saying that you can't teach kids to write because they don't have any background to base an idea on.

And I have been to -- I've been to the Kashmir. Now, that puts me one up on 99 people out of 100 people in this country, or 1,000. And I had the damndest time in Kashmir. And I can't relate this to the -- it is the picture-perfect area on the globe. Did you know? It is magnificent.

KING: You mean beautiful?

ROONEY: It's beautiful. It's bowl. It's about 25 miles long and 10 miles wide. Verdant; I mean, just green. And the mountains rise up around it, snow-capped mountains. And the town itself, it's like Venice. I had no idea. But you -- they live on boats in there. And it's just wonderful.

I went up there -- I was with the army newspaper, the "Stars and Stripes." I had been sent over from Europe to tell the soldiers back in Europe what it was going to be like when they were sent over there to invade Japan. So I was looking for a story to write, and I found a lot of American soldiers used to go up to the Kashmir on vacation. If they got a couple days' leave they went up there.

So I said, that's what I'll do. I'll do a story about what American soldiers do on leave over here, and also get out of the heat of Delhi. So I went up there and I got on a boat with three British sergeants. And we stayed there. And the next day, they were going up into the mountains on a horse, so -- horses.

So I had never been on a horse. I got on a horse, and it got warm. We followed these cricks up into the mountains on snow. And we all took our shirts off. Well, there I was, never been on a horse. I was in the sun for eight hours with my shirt off. Been on -- eight hours on a horse and never been out on a horse before. I came back down. What do you think I think of Kashmir now? I mean, I couldn't move for days.

But I have this -- here I am thinking about this awful situation of nuclear proliferation. I mean, it could be cataclysmic. It could be terrible. It could start the whole world on fire.

And here I am thinking about the terrible time I had on a horse.

KING: Can you understand why both India and Pakistan would want it?

ROONEY: Well, they see it as death, otherwise, for them. I mean, this is the -- if one of them loses, they're going to be out. I mean, apparently these generals, these hard-line Islamic generals feel that if they lose this to anybody moderate in power, that they're going to be out for good.

So they don't care. They have nothing to lose. They're going to lose their lives anyway, probably, so they don't care whether there's an atomic war or not.

KING: Do you see any light on the horizon in the Middle East? Tonight we have, as we speak, Israeli forces have stormed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah.

ROONEY: I see no hope at all. I mean, it is...

KING: No hope?

ROONEY: No hope. This is a religious war, basically. And you can't approach it, trying to make any sense of it. Because they don't -- that's not -- no thought is being put into this from -- it's just...

KING: But you have to try, right?

ROONEY: Well, we have to try. But they are not -- I don't think they want to try, no. They are set in their minds. I mean, you can't write anything about this without being flooded with negative comments. I mean, I've been accused of being both anti- Semitic and -- I mean, I get letters from -- just incredible letters from Muslim factions. I mean...

KING: They get mad?

ROONEY: Oh, my God.

KING: Give you an example of that in a moment.

By the way, tomorrow night our special guest is Dr. James Dobson, the founder and president of Focus on the Family.

We'll be taking calls for Andy Rooney. His most recent book, "My War" will be out in paperback.

And here's Andy looking at the Middle East.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 Minutes")

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Israeli attack helicopters circle constantly in the sky above.

ROONEY: Well, the pilot is Israeli, but the helicopter is an American Cobra. The rifles used by Israelis to kill Palestinians are often American M-16s, as are some of the rifles used by Palestinians to kill Israelis.

Is this crazy? Last year we gave Israel, 1 billion, 900 million dollars for weapons alone. We gave them 67 helicopters and 337 fighter planes. If Sharon and the Palestinian terrorists persist with their arrogance, we have the power to save Israel and Palestine from themselves by cutting off both the money and the weapons with which this war is being fought.



KING: We're back with Andy Rooney, an American treasure. Our own little curmudgeon.

ROONEY: You going to give me a chance to offend some more people?

KING: Oh, we love you. And, of course, you offend everyone.

Correspondent/commentator CBS "60 Minutes." "A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney" has been a regular feature on at program since 1978. Next year it's going to celebrate 25 years.

Bestselling author, most recent hardcover "My War." And that will be out in paperback. And he's also writing a twice-weekly newspaper column. Been doing that for near-25 years as well. Before we go to some phone calls, what do you make of the whole news business, and first, of "60 Minutes"? How long are you going to keep going with this crew?

ROONEY: It is -- you know, I look at it like a viewer. I don't always know what the stories are going to be. Sometimes I do, but usually I don't. And something comes up and I say, do I really want to look at another story about some unpleasant subject? And it comes on, and invariably I become engrossed.

I mean, it is -- they take -- they do not take the light or floppy subjects. They take hard subjects. And it is, in that regard, the best news show on television, by far because they are not looking for the story that will immediately attract attention in the line that they carry in "TV Guide."

KING: They have a standard, and seem to always meet it, right? I mean, they are slick -- you'd call them that, wouldn't you?

ROONEY: Very professionally done, yes.

KING: And they have great producers. But how long can these anchors keep going? Morley, you, Mike?

ROONEY: Well, as long as -- I mean, we can -- I don't put myself in with them. They can go for as long as they have good producers helping them.

But I don't know. How long does a person live, Larry? That's not a question.

KING: You've outlived that already.

ROONEY: Michael -- Mike says he's cutting back next year, you know. Well, everybody laughs at that because Mike is just not a guy who cuts back. I mean, he'll be in there -- if he sees a good story, he'll fight those other people on the show for that story.

KING: And he has not aged.

ROONEY: He's in very good shape. He has a very youthful manner about him. He bounces when he walks, and...

KING: The timbre of his voice...

ROONEY: He tells me to stand up straight.

KING: The timbre of his voice is as young as ever.

ROONEY: Yes. He said to me the other day -- I said - -I mean, you worry about it. And I said -- we were talking about his 84th birthday. And I said, are you as sharp as you are?

ROONEY: He says, I'm not. He says, I noticed in an interview that I'm not as sharp as I used to be. I have a great friend, maybe the smartest man in America, Jacques Barzun. He's -- he wrote a book last -- two years ago, "From Dawn to Decadence." And I was having dinner with him a couple years ago. And he was 94 at the time. And this gave me such hope. But I worry about it myself, losing it mentally.

And I said to Jacques, I said, are you writing as well as you used to? He says, better than ever. And he is. I mean, it's -- it gave me great confidence.

KING: Do you notice any slowing down of your thought process?

ROONEY: Not in my -- it's funny, my ability to create things does not seem diminished. Now, I notice loss in other areas. There's no question names don't come to my mind as quickly. My memory is not as good. But I am pleased that my creative drive does not seem diminished.

KING: Let's take a call for Andy Rooney.

Palo Alto, California, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Andy, you're awesome. I just had to say that.

Charles Kuralt, did you know him personally? And were you surprised about the mistress thing?

ROONEY: I was not surprised. I knew him very well, and have the greatest affection and respect for Charles Kuralt. And I am distraught about what has happened to his memory, because he did more things better than anybody in the business has ever done. He was the best at everything. He wrote well. He produced well. He just knew how to do everything. Such a competent guy.

KING: But you were someone who knew about the other...

ROONEY: No, no, I didn't know.

KING: Oh, I...

ROONEY: But I knew he kept disappearing; I didn't know where he went. And it didn't surprise me.

KING: But you're saying he was the best all-around?

ROONEY: Oh, I think he was. I think he was the best all-around newsman there has ever been. He could do a hard story and do it well. And he could do the feature pieces, as we know.

KING: Now, what about changes occurring in the news? Brokaw's leaving. Questions about network news in and of itself. What do you think?

ROONEY: Well, it's not so much -- I mean, this has been happening for a long time now, Larry. The fact of the matter is that a great change took place about 15 or 20 years ago when the emphasis changed from being on news to money.

I mean, the oldest -- the three network news and all the other news broadcasts are now trying to find out what people want. And they are giving them that, instead of finding out what people ought to know and giving them that. They are giving them what they want to hear, and that is wrong.

You know, I have had this idea for 10 years. I just don't see why it wouldn't work. I keep saying -- I may have said it here -- I would take "60 Minutes" off the air. I would take 20 producers, good producers, and take the five correspondents who are on the air. I would put "60 Minutes" on five nights a week for one hour. It would be the best show there ever was on television. And I would force the stations -- local stations to take it. I mean, to hell with your local broadcast. Here we are, we're going to put a blockbuster on five nights a week.

It would be -- I don't know why it's not a viable idea.

KING: Cost?

ROONEY: Cost? It doesn't cost anything. I mean, these -- "60 Minutes" costs nothing compared with one of the sitcoms. I mean, 1/10th -- 1/20th of what a sitcom costs. Even with the absurd salaries with -- that everybody but me makes on "60 Minutes."

KING: So if you took a bunch of terrific producers, you could pull this off?

ROONEY: And you could make a one-hour -- I mean, the American public has no idea what they are missing about what's going on in the world. I mean, there is so much happening everywhere in the world. We're not hearing anything about it.

And they say, well, the American public doesn't want to hear about what's happening in foreign countries.

KING: We'll take a break, and we'll be back with more of Andy Rooney and more of your phone calls.

Here's another sample of Mr. Rooney at work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 Minutes")

ROONEY: I've taken my own unofficial survey. The average IQ of the people who watch "Nightline" and "60 Minutes" is 34 points higher than the people who don't watch.

My survey also indicates that the people who watch David Letterman and Jay Leno say up two hours and nine minutes later than people who go to bed at a reasonable hour. The reason they stay up late is: 37 percent of them don't get up and go to work in the morning because they don't have jobs. They don't have money to buy the stuff in the commercials, either.

The people who stay up late to watch Ted Koppel don't have to get up early because they're the bosses. They can come to work any damn time they feel like it.

David Letterman's show is on at 11:30, but he tapes it at 5:30 in the afternoon. The reason is simple: Letterman is smarter than 94 percent of his audience, and at 11:30 at night, he's home watching "Nightline."



KING: Andy Rooney has loads of ideas about television. In a moment, I'm going to ask him some ideas he might have about this show.

But first let me get a call in.

Sacramento, hello.

CALLER: Hello. How do you feel about Americans standing during the National Anthem at sporting events and, in many cases, placing their hand over their heart?

ROONEY: Well, I never understood that, placing the hand over their hearts. But I am -- I know the kickoff is not far away when we stand at Giants stadium every Sunday when I go out there. I like the custom. I am...

KING: Respect?

ROONEY: It is a note of respect. And it creates a kind of togetherness, it is fun.

KING: The hand over the heart is...

ROONEY: Well, that seems sort of silly. I have no objection to it if anybody wants to do it. I take my hat off if I'm wearing a cap. I think that's a respectful thing to do.

And then at the Giants stadium, they usually have somebody pretty bad singing. And the crowd will not let them finish. There's a great roar that goes up about 30 seconds from the end. It's a joke. But I like the custom.

KING: All right, what would you do -- I know you have ideas you'd like to...


KING: ... won't let you...

ROONEY: Well, I'd like to sit here and interview you some night, Larry. That's what I'd like to do.

The other thing I was thinking...

KING: That's automatic, you'd get that. ROONEY: The other thing I was thinking the other night when I saw a crack-eye (ph) introduce your two-hour special of the best of Larry King. I've watched you some nights when you were having a lot of trouble. And I was thinking, gee, he ought to do the worst of Larry King.

I mean, you could put together an hour of really bad stuff.

You know, I sat here and watched you one night. You were asking these good questions, somebody -- and this guy's like, yes, uh-huh.

KING: Don't you love that?

ROONEY: But you couldn't get anything out of him.

KING: Oh, boy. The interviewer's nightmare.

Palm Bay, California -- but if you want to interview me one nigh, you got it.

Palm Bay, California, hello.

CALLER: Mr. King, it's Palm Bay, Florida.

KING: Palm Bay, Florida, I'm sorry.

CALLER: Thank you.

ROONEY: Now you're forgotten your question.

CALLER: I respect you very, very much. But you're only allowed to do essays. I would really like to know, would you like to do one- on-one interviews with other people?

ROONEY: Well, I have done some interviews. I did one with Dr. Kevorkian a couple years ago for a full-length piece on "60 Minutes."

Yes, I would like to do some interviews. I think I'm apt to approach people from a different angle than some other people might. I would enjoy doing interviews.

KING: Is the essay your favorite thing?

ROONEY: Oh, I like writing. I mean -- and I like to be in control of it. That's why I prefer that to interviews. I mean, if I am writing it, I can do it the way I want to.

KING: Does "60 Minutes" want to know what you're going to say every week?

ROONEY: No, they do not. I -- well, they see it. But I don't ask Don Hewitt, the producer, if it's OK if I do this. I have an idea and I do it, and I take it over to him. He throws it out every once in a while, like last week.

KING: He did throw something out? ROONEY: He threw out a piece I did on Rumsfeld. I was -- I have been much upset by, as I said before, our -- the lack of the military to allow any reporters in to watch what they're doing.

KING: So you did a critical piece...

ROONEY: And I did a piece -- I took Rumsfeld -- I took about a minute and 30 seconds of Rumsfeld saying "I can't answer that question," "I'm not going to say what that is," "I don't think that's a proper question" and...

KING: Run them all together?

ROONEY: Run them all together. It was just funny. And it wasn't mean. I mean, he -- Rumsfeld has a certain charm doing it. And he obviously -- he loves it. I mean, he is a ham on stage there. He's good at it, and he like sit.

But it's wrong for the American public to be getting all their information from him.

KING: Why did they cut it out?

ROONEY: Don thought it was a cheap shot. And the "Times" did practically the same story the following Sunday about Rumsfeld's expressions and everything else.

KING: Stratford, Ontario, hello.

CALLER: Hello?

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Do you feel Bill Maher has been treated unfairly?

ROONEY: I did, yes. I mean, you have to be able to say some things. I'm not too familiar with his -- yes, that was wrong. I mean...

KING: Wrong of the White House press secretary to criticize him, too?

ROONEY: Well, the White House press secretary can criticize him; I don't object to that. It goes both ways. I have no objection. In his official capacity, it might be wrong.

But, yes, Maher got a bad deal. That's -- I think the network should have been stronger than that.

KING: What do you think about Brokaw leaving?

ROONEY: Well, wait until I see him go out the door.

KING: Wallace said the same thing. You mean, you don't think he's going to go? ROONEY: Well, he may. But how long is it? I mean, it's a couple years yet, isn't it? It'll be a sad day. Brokaw is one of the great broadcasters of all time. Very good.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with our remaining moments with Andy Rooney.

Here's Andy talking about hair cuts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 Minutes")

ROONEY: The funny thing is, over the years our opinion of how our hair looks best changes. I used to think I looked best with long sideburns. Why in the world would I have ever thought that? I didn't realize I looked so funny back then, or I probably would never have gone on television at all.

The thing that scares me is: In ten years, what I look like now will look just as funny.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 Minutes")

ROONEY: There's too much scoring in basketball. The team with the ball usually scores. The Portland Trailblazers beat the Lakers 128-120. You need an adding machine.

The dumbest scoring for a good game is tennis. When the first player wins a point, the score is called 15-love. Why 15? And what's "love" all about?

In tennis, love means nothing.


KING: Well said.

A couple of other things. What did you make of Bernard Goldberg's book, critical of television liberal bias, and especially harsh on some of your folks at CBS.

ROONEY: I thought he made some very good points. There is just no question that I, among others, have a liberal bias. I mean, I'm consistently liberal in my opinions. And I think some of the -- I think Dan is transparently liberal. Now, he may not like to hear me say that. I always agree with him, too. But I think he should be more careful.

I think Goldberg, Bernie -- he was a very good reporter, you know. He said some very true things. There's only one thing about it -- he just has a great knack for being a jerk, Bernie Goldberg.

KING: What do you mean? ROONEY: Well, you can tell it in the book. I mean, he was always that way. He was that way around the network. He had a very good reputation as a reporter, but he was always sort of a jerk.

And I liked him. I felt bad when he...

KING: It's so hard drawing you out, Andy.

Fairfax, Virginia, hello.



CALLER: Mr. Rooney, everybody on "60 Minutes" in the opening segment gets to introduce themselves. Why can't you?

ROONEY: Well, if they asked me to do it, I wouldn't do it. You know that?

KING: Why?

ROONEY: I don't know. I don't do promos of any kind for the network. I never had. I just don't think that a newsperson, or whatever I am, should get into any of the promotional business. I just don't do it. I don't know what it is. I'm embarrassed to come on this show when I want to sell a book, for instance. It seems so demeaning. I wrote the damn book, why do I have to come out and sell it?

And I don't think -- if they asked me to do it, I wouldn't do it. A lot of people ask me why I'm not on announcing myself. I am just perfectly happy having Lesley Stahl do it. She's a lot better looking than I am...

KING: You're here tonight without a book. We are honored. I'm honored.

ROONEY: Don't lay it on too thick here...

KING: What do you make of the Enron story and Arthur Andersen?

ROONEY: I think that one of the problems a news business has, it does a much better job on government than it does on business. The news has, over the years, been great in uncovering scandal and evil in government, at all levels, from the town mayor to the presidents of the United States. They have done a great job. And they have done a poor job investigating and reporting on big business in the United States.

KING: And the reason?

ROONEY: It's difficult to get in. I mean, there are rules that our government has, or has had up until recently, making it mandatory for -- to open up some -- themselves to inspection so that reporters can do some looking into government. Can't get into business. And I don't know what we do about that. This is -- I mean, Enron never would have happened if reporters were able to investigate business the way it investigates government.

KING: Are you shocked at the Arthur Andersen story?

ROONEY: Well, no, I'm not. I mean, they were all in it together. Don't press me on that, I don't know anything except the headlines I read.

No, I wasn't shocked at all. They were in part -- they were in on the deal.

KING: Any story that -- anything you'd like to do in...

ROONEY: No Larry, no.

KING: No, anything you'd like to...

ROONEY: That's not a question. People write me at Christmas and ask me for the 10 best...

KING: No, no, no, I'm going to ask you is there anything you'd like to do that you haven't done? That's what I meant. I don't want your favorite story.

ROONEY: Pardon me.

I would like to -- the best work I ever did, and it bothers me a little that I'm better known for my "60 Minutes" pieces -- but the best work I ever did were the hour documentaries I did. And I would love to do another one of those.

One I would like to get at tomorrow, but it would take me three or four months to do, I would like to go to Washington and do a documentary on the association between big business and big government. I mean, there is a great cry among businessmen that they want less government. But big government and big business are in business together.


KING: When we come back, highlights of an interview with Andy Rooney in 2000. How did he feel about the presidental campaign? You'll find out when we come back.


ROONEY: Let me begin tonight by saying, as nice and sweet as I know how, that I thought last Tuesday's debate between Al Gore and George Bush stank. It was about as exciting as synchronized swimming at the Olympics.

Right from the beginning, they irritated me. Coming in, Gore threw a kiss to Tipper. Well, it wasn't really for her; it was for us. What he was saying was he's not Bill Clinton. I wasn't impressed because no public display of affection ever convinces me that a guy loves his wife.




ROONEY: They both dropped names of unknown little people they thought made them sound like nice guys.

AL GORE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Like Winnifred Skinner (ph) from Des Moines, Iowa.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Strunk (ph) family in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

ROONEY: So phony. They both thought using the name of the moderator made them sound friendly.

BUSH: I want to say something, Jim.

GORE: Yes, Jim.

BUSH: If I might, Jim.

GORE: Jim.

BUSH: I've said, Jim.

GORE: Jim is...

ROONEY: The only thing it made me think was that Jim might make a better president than either one of them.


KING: Oh, memories of 2000. They were hardly memories when Andy Rooney joined us in November of that year. It was days before the election that eventually put George W. Bush in the White House, and Rooney was his ususal reserved self about the campaign and the candidates.


KING: Do you take a view of all politicians, that is, one of sort of the little distance? Do you view them all suspect?

ROONEY: I'm afraid I do, mostly. They have to make so many concessions in their lives to being dead honest to get the money together and they can call it cooperating with the other part, but not being honest about their positions is what it is very often.

KING: So you think therefore to be a successful politician you must compromise? ROONEY: They think it is. No, I do not think they must compromise. I wish they compromise as often as they do. No, I didn't say that.

KING: What do you make of this race?

ROONEY: Well, I don't know how it's happened. I mean, ideally, the president of the United States should be the smartest person we have in this country. And that's not going to happen. We are not going to get the smartest guy, whichever one of these guys wins and I hope they turn out to be better than they have appeared in their appearances so far.

KING: This has not been...

ROONEY: They have not distinguished themselves, either one of them. I don't know why that is, but it's very difficult. I think that what the voters should concentrate on, is what would happen if either one of them got in with their political motivation, with what they feel. I mean, you can dismiss these two candidates, but clearer than almost ever in our history, they represent Democrat and Republican, left wing and right wing.

KING: That's what we are today, they represent.

ROONEY: It's going to make a huge difference in which direction the country goes.


JAY LENO, HOST: Now, I have a Halloween mask I think you might get a kick out of, see what you think here. Put this on. Does this look a little bit like -- subliminable?

BUSH: That's scary.

LENO: Subliminable?

BUSH: This is more scary.



KING: What part does humor play in the political scene these days, Andy?

ROONEY: Well, it makes it tolerable.


I think there has been a tendency to say that humor has been important in this campaign. The news, nightly news broadcasts are running a lot of this stuff now, and humor has always been an important factor in any campaign.

KING: You're an -- you're a kind of an expert on language. You care about language.

ROONEY: I do care about the English language.

KING: Would you analyze for us these two candidates in that regard, how well they use the language?

ROONEY: Well, I write so much better than I talk that I would rather write that down and give it to you on paper.

KING: Because you call yourself a writer?

ROONEY: I am a writer.

KING: You're a writer who goes on...

ROONEY: And if you look -- if I look at a transcript of what I have said, for instance, on a program like this, I'm appalled at how badly I use the language, how incoherent I am sometimes.

KING: You're more comfortable writing it?

ROONEY: I am very comfortable writing, and the computer has been such a big help. I never thought I would go to a computer over my grand old typewriter. But the fact is you make little corrections that you wouldn't have bothered to make on a -- because it was just too much trouble.

KING: Too hard.

ROONEY: And I think for that reason maybe writing is getting better.

KING: All right. And their use of the language, how good are they?

ROONEY: They are not good at all. I think that every time a politician reads a speech written by a writer, there ought to be a credit run underneath it: written by so and so. I mean, how can they do that? How can they be so dishonest as to pose, as if they were expressing their own ideas in their words when those, both the ideas and the words have been written by somebody else? It's not right.

KING: Was the Lieberman-Cheney debate better?

ROONEY: It was -- there was no question. I think a great many Americans thought why aren't these two people running for president.

KING: Why don't we, the collective we, vote? Why don't Americans vote? Why is 55 percent a huge turnout?

ROONEY: Well, we didn't get 55 percent last time. We got 49 percent. And Larry, I don't know how to say this nicely on your show. I don't want to offend a lot of your listeners, but we've got a lot of dumb Americans.

(LAUGHTER) KING: I knew that was coming somewhere. What did Mencken say? No one ever went broke overestimating the intelligence of the American public.

ROONEY: I think a lot of people just don't know enough about -- they're desperate trying to live and get up in the morning and go to work and get their car started, and they just don't have time to think about any issues more serious than their own little problems. And that's why they don't.

KING: Do you think there would be shock if one of these gentlemen got the popular vote and the other got the electoral vote? Americans would learn that the man with more votes will not be the president?

ROONEY: Well, this has come up every year, and...

KING: More so now because it really could happen now.

ROONEY: It happened once before. Who was that?


ROONEY: One of those people, yes. But I doubt if it's going to happen this time, and if it does, why, it may force us to make change. We need serious changes in our electoral process. I mean, democracy is such a wonderful idea, and we made a mess of it.

KING: You favor straight popular vote?

ROONEY: Oh, I certainly do, yes.

KING: Andy, as always.


KING: Have you ever wondered why Andy Rooney is such a great guest? I think you may have just found out. Thanks for watching. Back live tomorrow night. Until then, good night.