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Piers Morgan Live
Taxes and the Race for the White House; Cruise, Holmes and Scientology
Aired July 09, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, the hottest political question of the summer. Who will be Mitt Romney's running mate? Remember the top Republican who told me this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM PAWLENTY, ROMNEY SUPPORTER: I'm running for president. I'm not putting my hat in the ring rhetorically or ultimately for vice president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was then. But now is Tim Pawlenty rethinking that whole vice presidential thing? I'll ask him also what he thinks of this from President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Republican says they don't want to raise taxes on the middle class. I don't want to raise taxes on the middle class. But we should all agree to extend the tax cuts for the middle class.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Plus, Hollywood's most gripping blockbuster Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes settle their divorce just 11 days after she filed. What may be going on behind the scenes? And what role, if any, did scientology play in that split? I'll talk to a woman who was a member of that church and the counselor who says he's helped countless ex- scientologists.
Also, your money, your vote. Which matters more? I'll ask Hollywood heavyweight Rob Reiner if the Obama campaign is in trouble.
This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
Good evening. Our big story tonight. The battle for the heart and soul of this country's middle class. Judging by the amount of talk today about taxes, both sides believe this will be the big issue that decides the elections. Listen to President Obama earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: In many ways, the fate of the tax cut for the wealthiest Americans will be decided by the outcome of the next election. My opponent will fight to keep them in place. I will fight to end them. But that argument shouldn't threaten you. It shouldn't threaten the 98 percent of Americans who just want to know that their taxes won't go up next year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: And now more on our big story, Romney supporter Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota.
Welcome back, Governor.
PAWLENTY: Captain Morgan, it's good to be back with you.
MORGAN: I like that phrase, thank you. And let's turn to your own captain or the guy who wants to be captain, Mitt Romney. We got clear dividing lines emerging over the economy now, haven't we? This whole issue of the taxation, the Bush tax cuts and so on, President Obama clarified his position. He says, look, I'll extend them for a year, from January, and everybody under $250,000 a year gets to have the tax cuts. What is wrong with that in principle?
PAWLENTY: Well, two things, Piers. One is, it really is class warfare. And if you look at the people in this country who make over $250,000 a year, many of them are small business owners, entrepreneurs. They pay their taxes. Not in a corporate context but in a -- on their personal returns. So you're really raising the taxes on a lot of the people in the country who are the entrepreneurs, small business owners and the like. It's the backbone of the economy. It's wrong headed. It's misguided. It's going to hurt job growth, not help it.
And then number two, setting aside all these political arguments, obviously this is another political announcement by the president because he's been saying this for a long time and he hasn't been able to achieve his goal in that regard. But setting aside all the political rhetoric, we got to ask the country, how are President Obama's policies working for you? There's almost no economic measure that's better today in terms of unemployment, median income, household values and the like, that's better today than four years ago.
So it's obviously his presidency isn't working. He's got a desperate attempt to throw class warfare back into the mix. It doesn't work. And the people aren't going to buy it. Americans don't buy class warfare.
MORGAN: Well, you talk about class warfare. In reality, of course, everybody, whether they're worth $100 million or more, as in Mitt Romney's case, or under $250,000 or at the $250,000 mark, they all get the same cut under the Obama plan. Everybody. I'm not (INAUDIBLE) this in any of the stories today, but the reality is, it's everybody up to $250,000. So they all get the same benefit. And let's be honest, the Bush tax cuts demonstrably didn't do a lot of good for the American economy, did they? I mean unless I'm misreading all the figures.
PAWLENTY: Well, I travel -- look, Piers, I travel the country a lot. And look the numbers are basically this. About six million businesses in the country, 5.9 million of those six million or so have 500 employees or fewer. So the bulk of the economy in terms of numbers of businesses are small, medium sized businesses. If you go talk to the leaders, people who want to start and grow those businesses and provide jobs, they all say it a little differently but they all say basically the same thing.
Some say, look, the taxes are too high. Others say health care costs in Obamacare is too heavy. Others talk about energy cost being too high. And the effects of Obama constricting America and energy development. Others talk about regulations too -- being too heavy. But if you listen to all of it and add it up, this is the common theme. The government's burdens on my business and my willingness to grow my business, invest and take risk and provide jobs have become too heavy.
It's discouraging to America's entrepreneurs. And most of them don't support the president because they think he's wrong. And that's not my rhetoric. Go talk to the folks who are doing this. And the president doesn't understand this. Either he doesn't listen, doesn't respect it or doesn't care. And that's not going to work for America.
MORGAN: Well, maybe the president just looked around the world and realized that American tax rates, certainly compared to someone like Britain are not that punitive. And, in fact what is wrong, ideologically, if a country's in real financial strife, as America is right now, what is wrong with those at the richer end of society paying a little bit more than those at the poorer end?
When you actually look at it ideologically, when times are tough, what is wrong with that? Why is it unfair? Those who got more, help out a little bit more?
PAWLENTY: Well, even the president himself. But certainly most credible economists would say one of the worst things you can do in a recession or an economic slowdown is raise taxes. The president himself said that a year ago when he decided to temporarily extend all of the Bush tax cuts. So obviously, you know, setting aside the political maneuvers of the president, just look at people who actually know what they're talking about. You'd be hard pressed to find a credible economist who would say an economy -- I'd say anytime but certainly others would say in a down economy or in a recession, don't raise taxes.
MORGAN: How much of a problem is it for you that Mitt Romney's issue, if you like, with the common American man and woman in the street, is that he's worth an estimated quarter of a billion dollars, and yet he has a Swiss bank account, he has assets in offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands, and he won't reveal all his tax returns.
Whether they're all completely OK or not, it all builds up to a picture of suspicion. People are like, well, why won't he release all the details of his finances?
Do you not think in the interest of clarity, if you want to be president, you should just open up the books? Because if it was the other way around and it was Barack Obama who had all these secret accounts in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and so on, you guys would be banging for blood to get this information out there, wouldn't you?
PAWLENTY: Well, Piers, as to Mitt Romney, he has released his tax returns and for multiple years. And so the Democrats are trying to go back at some other chunk of time that no candidate has ever been asked to do. Number two, Mitt Romney has complied with all the tax laws. And has never been accused or found of doing anything wrong. So again President Obama doesn't want to run on his record. He's trying to distract with these shiny objects that really aren't what the election is going to be decided on.
And for middle class Americans, I think you and I have talked about this before. Look, my dad for much of his life was a truck driver. My mom for much of her life was a homemaker. She died when I was in 10th grade. For middle class Americans, they want to know this, am I going to have a job? Is my loved one going to have a job? Is it going to be a good paying job? And so they're not going to get hung up on whether the president or a candidate has this or that socioeconomic profile.
They're going to know, did you do what you said you're going to do? And President Obama has not. He's broken almost every major promise he made to the country when he ran last time. And it's not working. And so they see in Mitt Romney certainly success. But a hope for a better direction and a brighter future for America. As measured by growing jobs. Barack Obama has failed on that measure.
MORGAN: Even supporters of the Republican Party like Rupert Murdoch, for example, have got frustrated with Mitt Romney and his backroom team and the message they're putting out. They want him to step his game up a bit. And the classic example, I guess, would be this dispute last week over whether -- what the Supreme Court did was a penalty or a tax. And we had the Romney camp saying it was clearly a penalty. And then about two days later Mitt Romney said actually, no, it's a tax. That kind of flip-flopping doesn't help, does it?
PAWLENTY: Well, to be fair, when Governor Romney first addressed it himself, he said, obviously, it's a tax. The U.S. Supreme Court declared it as a tax as a matter of law. But to the courts who are concerned about the Romney campaign, here's a couple of measures for hope and optimism. Number one, he's a challenger who's outraising the president in fundraising by significant margins. That's the sign of a healthy and accelerating campaign with momentum.
Number two, in all of the polls, if you look at them nationally or in the swing states, from Romney's perspective, the race is no worse than essentially tied. In some weeks even a little ahead in July of the election year against an incumbent president. So he's clearly in position to win this race. There's a lot more work to be done. But to suggest that somehow the Romney campaign is in distress just isn't born out by the numbers. MORGAN: The big hot topic that's going to start raging I think ever more brightly in the furnace of Washington is who's going to be the VP pick for Mitt Romney. Your name has begun to be talked about. A lot more than it was even a few weeks ago.
Are you going to give me the normal pat, "I have absolutely no interest in that" answer, or is there something else you can tell me?
PAWLENTY: Well, this election isn't going to be decided by the vice presidency, whether it's Joe Biden or whoever Mitt Romney ends up selecting. Those doesn't tend to be a major factor in the elections obviously. But for me, I've said, look, I think I can serve Governor Romney in a variety of other ways. And -- but obviously anybody would be honored to be asked to consider being the vice president.
But he's got a lot of great people to look at. Many, many layers of strength in the conservative movement. The Republican Party. You know the names. There's a lot of wonderful people. He'll have a great pick. I'm sure he'll make a great pick.
MORGAN: Are you being vetted at the moment?
PAWLENTY: Well, we don't talk about the process, Piers, in terms of timing or the nature of the process. One of the chairs or co- chairs of the campaign. And we just don't get into that.
MORGAN: Right. But obviously if you weren't, you could say no, couldn't you?
PAWLENTY: Well, for any aspect of the VP process in terms of what's going on, timing, who particularly is involved, we just don't get into that. We have a campaign policy not to talk about the details of the VP process.
MORGAN: But just for the record, so we've got it on camera, if Mitt Romney said to you, Tim Pawlenty, I'm impressed by what you've been doing for me, I've decided you're the man to be my VP, you wouldn't say no, would you?
PAWLENTY: You just don't quit, Mr. Morgan. You just don't quit. Well, what I've said is I think I can best serve him in other ways. But anybody including me would be honored to be asked.
MORGAN: That is almost an honest answer. My god. (INAUDIBLE) co-chair after that.
Governor, thank you very much for joining me. I appreciate it.
PAWLENTY: You're welcome, good to be with you.
MORGAN: Tim Pawlenty who I think basically is sending a message to Mitt Romney there. He's available if asked. Ahead now more on our big story is Tanya Acker, attorney, political analyst, and "Huffington Post" blogger. On the other side, Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway.
Welcome back to you both. What do you make of that? Let's start with you over here. What do you make of what Tim Pawlenty just said?
TANYA ACKER, ATTORNEY, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I find it so interesting. You know, Governor Pawlenty can call it class warfare, Piers. I call it math. At the end of the day, we're talking about these tax cuts which George Bush passed in the middle of a war. And by the way, no president in the history of the United States of America has ever cut taxes in the middle of a war. And those taxes added $1.7 trillion to the American deficit between 2001 and 2008.
So that's our starting point. You know the governor spoke about these middle class Americans, these entrepreneurs who are dying under the burden of these high tax rates. Our tax rates now are at historic lows. In the past three years, we've collected less in revenues, less in tax revenue, as a percentage of the income, than we have in any three-year period since World War II. So taxes are historically low. Everybody wants to -- lower taxes. Nobody wants to pay taxes.
But at the end of the day, in order to support an economy, in order to make sure that we can pay for public services in order to make sure that we have a government that can, for instance, afford to pay inspectors to inspect drilling rigs rather than having the -- you know, those who we're trying to regulate self-regulate. You know, we have to raise revenue.
MORGAN: OK. Kellyanne --
ACKER: I mean it really is just math.
MORGAN: I mean, here's my problem, Kellyanne, with some of the Republicans and their position, is you're completely intransigent. If you're like one of the Grover Norquist signatories and you basically say never again in the history of the world are we going to raise taxes, how can that possibly be in a nation's interest? Who knows what's around the corner? Who knows what you may need revenue for?
What is actually wrong in principle with just saying, if we ever really need to, then we should be free to raise taxes? Isn't that what a sort of modern smart democracy does?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, if you read the Americans for Tax Reform pledge there are carve-outs for things like national security in times of war. But I think in addition to this rhetoric about class warfare that's being discussed, Piers, I think there's a fundamental thing at work here which is the president is actually moving to the right to get re-elected. And I think that's a very curious point because he spent the first six months of his presidency attacking George Bush for creating this economy. And he's spending the last six months of his presidency doing the Bush agenda. Extending the Bush tax cuts.
MORGAN: If he's moving to the right then --
CONWAY: He is.
MORGAN: If he's moving to the right --
CONWAY: He is on taxes because he knows tax is a four-letter word.
MORGAN: Wait a minute. Well -- wait a minute. If he's moving to the right, then you presumably are beginning to agree with him.
CONWAY: I agree with him on extending the tax cuts. I just wish that Obama circa 2010 was Obama circa 2010 when he extended them for everyone. See, when he wasn't -- when his team got beaten in 2010, he realized that to the voters in 2010, it wasn't about something to do with the tax levels but it's really about how that tax money is spent. It's what is the federal government doing with our money. They have so much of it. And so when Tanya says we can't pay our inspectors, that's simply a crime. We have the money there. It just needs to be allocated properly for items like that.
MORGAN: Without being too personal about your finances, Kelly, I mean do you -- do you earn more than $250,000 a year?
CONWAY: My household does and my business certainly does. In other words, I'm a great example of who gets ensnared between the $250,000 and up because as a small business owner in --
MORGAN: Yes, but here's my point.
MORGAN: Here's my point. Ninety -- I don't know what the percentage must be. But it must be, like, well over 95 percent of Americans earn nowhere near $250,000 a year. I mean this is like the rich. The rich -- this is sort of a weird way describing this figure. As if it encompasses the vast majority of middle America. I don't think it does at all.
CONWAY: But Piers, let me just say this.
MORGAN: $250,000 is a lot of money, isn't it?
CONWAY: It is. And it goes farther in some places in this country. But let's talk about their tax liability. The top 1 percent of this country pays 36.7 percent of all federal income taxes. The top 10 percent pays 70 percent. So when you say can't they afford to pay just a little bit more, what exactly is a little bit more? How is 70 percent for the -- for the top 10 percent of the tax burden fair? And why don't we look at how to spend that money? Why is the government always wasting it on nonsense? There's duplication. There's regulation.
I think that, you know, it's not a spending -- it's not a -- it's not a --
CONWAY: It's not a revenue problem, it's a spending problem.
MORGAN: Tanya, you've heard -- you've heard the respond from Kellyanne. What do you have to say?
ACKER: To your point about how many people make $250,000 a year, it's less -- 98 percent of people in the United States make less than that. And look, I'm not one to pretend like a quarter of a million dollars is going to go a long way in L.A. or New York. It certainly doesn't. But that really isn't the point. The point really is what are we doing as a country to make sure that the nation has the resources to pull us back from the $1.7 trillion that we lost from these tax cuts that were enacted when we were a nation at war.
And so certainly, look, I don't like the notion of raising taxes on anybody. I mean once you give people a lot of money back, it's hard to put that money back on the table. But really, Piers, it's just math. I mean we're talking now -- we're now at a place where, you know, we are facing -- we're really at a critical juncture. Are their places where we could cut spending? Absolutely. Are these tax cuts? Is this a good start? Is this a good way to start to make sure that 98 of Americans are going to have the certainty of that tax -- of that cut? Absolutely. Is that the end game? Is that the end of the story? Certainly not.
MORGAN: Well, what it will be is a major battleground for the election. And I'm sure this debate will heat up. But for now, Tanya and Kellyanne, thank you both very much.
Coming up, the split that shook Hollywood. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. And when scientology was to blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: A scientologist is someone who could look at the world and really see what it is. Not only look at it and see it but be able to go and be effective and do something about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Tom cruise talking about scientologist in a video made in 2008. He and Katie Holmes signed a divorce settlement today less than two weeks after she filed. Speculation scientologist played a role in that split.
Former Scientologist Nancy Many, author of my "Billion Year Contract" joins me, along with mental health counselor, Steve Hassan, author of "Freedom of Mind," and Anthea Butler, an associate professor of religious studies and graduate chair of religion at the University of Pennsylvania.
Welcome. Welcome to you all. Let me start with you, Anthea Butler.
ANTHEA BUTLER, ASSOC. PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Sure.
MORGAN: A lot of talk in the last few days about scientology because of the Tom Cruise split from his wife. What is scientology? Put it into context for anyone who hears the word and has no real idea what it means?
BUTLER: Yes, well, scientology was started by L. Ron Hubbard. First with a book called "Dianetics " in 1950. And at first this book "Dianetics" was about changing your life. Making things better for yourself. And in 1951, because of the success of the book, L. Ron Hubbard believed that this could go further. It could be a religion. And so that's how it started.
Scientologist is basically a way of clearing out the bad things in your life to make things better. But it is a very complicated -- what we could call in sociology, a new religious movement.
MORGAN: I mean, is it a religion? You're a professor of religion. You studied many, many religions.
BUTLER: Well, I tell people because I do study religion that I study it but I'm not going to make the judgment call of whether it's a religion or not. I think the way you have to look at scientology is how people are practicing this religion first off. And then secondarily, how does that religion interact with other traditions of faith, how does it interact with the government, et cetera, et cetera.
So while I am not comfortable saying it is not a religion because it's something I would teach and study, let's say, in a sociology/religion class, I'm sure there are lots of people who have different opinions about whether it's a religion or not.
MORGAN: Tom Cruise and Katie issued a statement today saying, "We are committed to working together as parents to accomplish what is in our daughter Suri's best interests. We want to keep matters affecting our family private and express our respect to each other's commitment to each other of our respective beliefs and support each other's roles as parents."
No mention there of scientology.
We bring in Steve Hassan, he's the author and mental health counselor. One of the big theories is that effectively Katie Holmes got fed up with the whole scientology aspect of this marriage. We don't actually know if that's true or not. But if you assume that that was becoming a problem in the relationship, how easy is it to leave a scientology relationship like this?
STEVE HASSAN, MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR: Well, Piers, ever since I left the Moonies in 1976, I've been actually talking with people involved in scientologist, coming out of scientology. Later I became a mental health professional. And have helped innumerable people coming out of it. It's incredibly difficult because of the indoctrination. First of all, it starts with deceptive recruitment. But the indoctrination, the hypnotic techniques that are used. The training routines. The processing that goes on. The installation of phobias. That if you leave the group, you're losing the bridge to total freedom.
The phobias that if you go to a mental health professional, you'll go insane, you'll get cancer, you'll be hit by a car. And the process itself of indoctrination actually creates a dissociative state where a person kind of has a scientology self and a real self.
MORGAN: Let me turn to you, Nancy Many. You were in the scientology church. What was the experience like for you?
NANCY MANY, FORMER SCIENTOLOGY MEMBER: Well, I must say something -- scientology may be working now as a religion. But I was involved for 23 years. And I worked with Hubbard himself for a large portion of that time. And I can tell you that I was raised Catholic and I never would have joined a church. And I was clearly shown policy letters by L. Ron Hubbard himself, the founder of scientology, where he said that the religion side of things was for the legal and attorneys and accountants only.
That the day-to-day business would not change. So what I joined was a self-help organization. We sold counseling. We sold courses. We sold books. And there were set fees. And people either liked them or they didn't. And there were a lot of people that really enjoyed that. And further on the line, when working with Hubbard directly --
MORGAN: But tell me this. Tell me this. Let me -- do people wildly exaggerate the scientologists?
MANY: It depends on your experience. And just like when you put your foot into a moving river, it's going to be different every time. And every individual that has a contact wit scientology has a very different understanding. They have key core organizations, which Tom Cruise is very connected with, called the sea organizations. And that's where the individuals sign their billion-year contracts.
Now, Suri and Katie are public scientologists. That's different. When you are committed to the billion-year contract, you are a member of a group that controls basically 24/7 your entire life. And that is not the case with Katie or Suri. They have a lot more freedom available to them. But, again, the age that Suri is at is -- she's ready for school. And there is a choice there for her parents as to whether it's going to be a scientology school or any other kind of school.
MORGAN: Well, for now, Nancy Many, Steve Hassan, and Anthea Butler, thank you all very much.
MANY: Thank you very much.
BUTLER: Thank you, Piers.
HASSAN: Thank you. MORGAN: After that interview, we received a statement from the Church of Scientology in response to our repeated requests. The statement from the church says, "With respect to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorce, the church has no comment. Please direct any questions to our representative. This is and always was a private family matter and the church will continue to respect their privacy.
"With respect to your other questions, the church regrets that excommunicated self-serving apostates are sadly exploiting private family members to further their hate-filled agendas against their former faith. Having left the church many years ago, these sources have no current knowledge about the church and their recollections are distorted by their animosity. Every religion has its detractors and these stories come at a time of tremendous church growth. Anyone desiring correct information about the church can find it on the church's Web site."
When we come back, a Hollywood star who worked with Tom Cruise on one of his biggest movies, director Rob Reiner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK NICHOLSON, ACTOR: You want answers?
TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: I think I'm entitled.
NICHOLSON: You want answers.
CRUISE: I want the truth.
NICHOLSON: You can't handle the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: One of the great movie scenes, a confrontation between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson from 1992's "A Few Good Men." One of Hollywood's biggest directors, Rob Reiner, directed Tom in that film. And he joins me now to talk about Tom Cruise, President Obama, and his new movie, "The Magic of Belle Isle." We've got lots to talk about.
Rob Reiner, welcome. How are you?
ROB REINER, DIRECTOR: Good. How are you doing, Piers?
MORGAN: Good. I want to start quickly with Tom Cruise. Obviously all over the news again, as befits a man of his movie star status. What kind of guy is Tom Cruise? You worked with him. You directed him. There's lots of stuff being said about the man. What's he really like?
REINER: Well, just as a professional actor, you couldn't have anybody who was more dedicated, more passionate about his work. I mean, you know, from a director's standpoint, he was a dream to work with, because he always came on time; he knew what he was doing. He was a hard worker and all of that.
I mean, the Scientology aspects of his life really didn't come into play in his day-to-day performance on the set. So I can't really speak to that part of him.
MORGAN: You've been married for 23 years to your wife, Michelle. What is the secret? You've seen many, many Hollywood marriage, not just Tom Cruise's but many others come and go, and fall and fail. What's been the secret to your successful marriage would you say?
REINER: Well, you know, a number of years ago, my mother and father celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. And my mother said -- when they asked her what the secret to that was, she said, "find someone who can stand you." Not find somebody you can put up with, find somebody who can stand you.
I very luckily found somebody who can stand me and I can stand her. And we love each other. And we're best friends. And you go from there.
MORGAN: Let's move to politics. I know you've got a lot of views about all this. President Obama is facing an election in four months time. What is your overview of where the election battle currently stands?
REINER: Well, I think it's interesting to point out that here we are in the midst of the worst economy since the Great Depression and, you know, the conventional wisdom is no president has ever won re- election when the unemployment rate is above 7.5 percent, and here we are at 8.1, 8.2 percent. And Obama is still leading in the polls.
So I don't know what that says. I think it says a lot about the candidate he's running against, Mitt Romney. I don't think people really trust him. I mean, when you look at, you know, the -- the accounts in the Cayman Islands and the Swiss bank accounts, I don't think people really feel comfortable with Mitt Romney. They don't feel like he understands them.
And I think that people like Obama. And I think that when it comes down to it, it's going to be a very close election, very tight. But if you look in those key battleground states, Obama is still ahead. I know he's being outspent tremendously on the air. But I think that the get out the vote -- the registration, get out the vote drive, will put Obama over the top. And I think he will win a second term. But it's going to be very, very close.
MORGAN: If he does win -- by common consent I think, President Obama hasn't been the miracle worker people perhaps ridiculously expected him to be, in the sense that with the economy in the shape it was in when he got elected, no one could perform miracles. But he certainly -- many people, even his best supporters, wish he'd gone further with things.
If he gets re-elected, where would you like to see him really put his foot on the pedal? REINER: First of all, you used the word ridiculously, which is exactly right. For young people who were voting for the first time, who might have become disillusioned, I think they have a distorted view of how quick the economy turns around. We were in the worst economy since the Great Depression. It takes a while to turn around. It is slowly, in fits and starts, moving in the right direction.
Now, having said that, and I think regardless who wins the election in the fall, we're going to see six percent unemployment in the next couple of years, either way, because the little known secret is that the government really has very little to do with the economy, in terms of the ebbs and flows of the economy.
What I'd like to see President Obama do is really focus on clean energy and having a real comprehensive energy policy, because ultimately it is going to be the new industry. There are going to be great new green jobs. It's going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and also have an effect on reducing the effects of climate change.
So these are all the things that I think are important going forward. But the economy will take care of itself. I think it is slowly starting to do that. It would have done better had the republicans not blocked with a filibuster -- and this is really the ugly truth about Washington. You really do need 60 votes to get anything done.
And when Obama made that -- what we call a gaffe when he said the economy is -- well, the private sector is doing fine. What he meant was the private sector is moving along at a good clip. What's not done fine is the public sector. And that's because we have reduced government spending, and all of the -- all of the things that a president can really do is focus on those infrastructure jobs.
Again, this would be technology regarding green jobs, but also, you know, roads and bridges and so on. And those jobs have been blocked in terms of moving forward. So if we can move forward on those jobs, if we can get some cooperation from the other side of the aisle, and also focus on the energy jobs, I think we'll move in the right direction. And I think the economy will correct itself.
But it doesn't happen overnight. It's going to take some time.
MORGAN: Let's take a short break. Rob, come back and talk movies. Your new movie "Magic Belle Isle," starting a very controversial actor but possibly my favorite actor on God's earth, Morgan Freeman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: Who's up for some high stakes poker? Five card draw. Deuces and one eyed jacks wild.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll play.
FREEMAN: How much you got?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Morgan Freeman starring in Rob Reiner's new film, "the Magic of Belle Isle." I'm back with Rob now. He wrote and directed this movie. Tell me very quickly, Rob, why should we go and watch this film, other than the fact it has the brilliant Morgan Freeman in it?
REINER: That's a pretty good reason. You said it, he's your favorite actor. I've been very lucky to work with I think the two best film actors in the world right now, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. If I could make every movie with Morgan Freeman, I would. If he would narrate my life, I'd be very happy to have that. He has the greatest voice in the world.
But it's a really -- I think one of the best pieces I've done. It's about a man who's given up on life. He moves into this lakeside community for the summer. And he's in a wheelchair. You find out why. He's been drinking. He's lost his wife. He stopped writing. He was a novelist.
He moves next door to a family, Virginia Madsen and her three daughters, and through the course of the summer, he learns to live again through his relationships with them. And it's really about finding a way to celebrate life no matter what your situation is. I started exploring that idea with "Bucket List," when I turned 60 and I realized at that point I was a very, very, very young old person.
I started thinking about my mortality and how precious life was. So you start thinking about what is really important, and how do you squeeze as much joy out of life as you can, regardless of what your situation is.
MORGAN: The thing I like about Morgan Freeman, you always get a feeling he doesn't really care what he says or what people think of him. He's a man completely comfortable in his own skin. Even over the weekend, he said the following "America's first black president hasn't arisen yet. Obama is not America's first black president. He's America's first mixed race president."
And that has got a lot of controversial headlines. What do you make of that statement, as a man who's campaigned for Obama?
REINER: Well, I don't know quite what to make of it, except for the fact I think if you're going to measure on the scale of the fact that he had a white mother or that there's a mixed race of it, then I don't think we'll probably ever have any black presidents. because by the time we all realize that race isn't important -- we're all mixing the races as we speak and as we all evolve forward.
So I don't know that. I don't know that we haven't had already a black president. There's probably some black along the way with some of the white presidents. So I don't really know what to make of that. But, you know, for all intents and purposes, yes, Barack Obama is our first African-American president. He's really African-American. He has an African father and an American mother.
MORGAN: That is undeniably true. Before we go, Rob, I want to talk to you briefly about Nora Ephron. It was the memorial for her today. Huge turnout as you'd expect, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Mike Nichols, Rosie O'Donnell, many others. You worked with her on "When Harry Met Sally." What was the secret of Nora Ephron? What made her so special?
REINER: She had the most keen ability to observe this awkward dance that men and women do with each other. She had the most wonderful curvy way of expressing basic truths about male/female relationships. She was funny. She was a lot of fun to be around.
And the greatest gift you could ever get was getting an invitation to a Nora Ephron dinner party, because what you knew you were going to get was great food, great conversation and lots of laughs. So we miss her terribly. It was like -- I felt like when I heard, it was like the rug was pulled out from under me. I felt like this isn't fair. This isn't right.
And the people in that room today all felt the same things. Her son spoke beautifully, and her sister Delia. It was a beautiful memorial. And it was funny. And it was orchestrated and directed by Nora. I mean, it's the way she lived her life. She told you what to eat, what to order, where to stay when you went on vacation.
And if you were smart, you listened to what she said because she was always right.
MORGAN: Let's take a very quick look at a clip from "When Harry Met Sally," one of my favorite films, and many other people's favorite films.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes, yes! Oh, oh, oh. Oh, God. Oh.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll have what she's having.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That one line, "I'll have what she's having," is one of the most famous lines in movie history.
REINER: Yes, and that's my mother who's delivering that line.
MORGAN: Is it really?
MORGAN: Yes. She has been made famous by that. And she will take her place in movie history, along with Clark Gable and "frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." I love that Estelle Reiner is lumped in there with Clark Gable.
MORGAN: That's fantastic. And great to see that Nora got a terrific sendoff today. She was a remarkable woman. Rob Reiner, it's always a pleasure. Thank you very much. REINER: Thanks for having me, Piers.
MORGAN: Coming up, the man who killed Trayvon Martin is out of jail on a million dollars bond. Next, George Zimmerman's attorney tells me exclusively what Zimmerman has said since he got out.
MORGAN: George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, is out of jail on one million dollars bond. But his attorney made a statement that's been pretty controversial. Joining me now in his first exclusive interview since he got his client released is that attorney, Mark O'Mara. Mark, welcome back.
MARK O'MARA, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Good evening. How you doing, Piers?
MORGAN: Your client is out. He got his bond. People have been a little bit surprised. I'm going to take this straight to you for your reaction tot his, about the strategy that you've adopted, which is to go public and say, if you agree that my clients' actions were with justified, then donate money to his defense funds.
Tell me about the thinking behind the strategy, and about the way that it's now blown up as a bit of a controversial thing for you to have done.
O'MARA: Well, it is a bit unique, again. And I'm a bit conflicted by it, to be honest. We try to deal with the reality that George does not have any funds of his own. He can only get those funds from his supporters. And a lot of those supporters, the comments they've given us have shown a variety -- a spectrum of support, a lot of which are those that believe that George did, in fact, act appropriately.
MORGAN: Right, but it is, as you say, a unique situation for a defense attorney to effectively say, look, you may believe he killed somebody, and he clearly did, but if you think he acted in self- defense and is justified, give us your money. It's something -- as critics would say, and there's some merit to the argument, it's slightly crude, isn't it? It's a sort of -- it's a very weird thing to be doing, isn't it?
O'MARA: It is. As I said, I was somewhat -- am somewhat conflicted with it, only because it is so very unique. This whole case has shown a lot of unique facets to it, one of which the fact that there is a criminal defense fund at all; secondly, that it's garnered such an amazing controversy and support throughout the nation and internationally. So it was a decision that we were sort of put in a position of having to do because of the bond amount.
As you remember, Piers, we had talked in the past that I had never really asked for money on George's behalf. And though we had the defense fund active, we never really pushed it. The reality is, however, that with a one million dollar bond, and a 100,000 dollar fee to get that bond done, we cannot do it without support from George's supporters.
MORGAN: How do you know, though, that there are no racist groups getting involved in this fund-raising? Are you vetting each donor? Do you know who they are? Clearly, the way this has been framed is an open invitation to any of the racists who raised their ugly heads at the time, to say, hey, this guy shot a black guy, I'm going to give him some money. How do you know that's not happening?
O'MARA: My true opinion is that I've reviewed thousands of the supporters' comment that have come to us. They have all been positive and I would say appropriate. There have been a very few that have been negative. Those monies have been returned.
So at least those people who are comments are doing it from their heart and from the right place. After all, there could be racist people on both sides of this fence. We have an enormous amount of hate mail that comes to us as well, from racists on the other side of it. Any racists from the white side, if you will, who do something like that, we go into -- rebuff them and not accept their money.
MORGAN: What is the time scale now, Mark, in terms of how you see the legal process moving forward in the next few months?
O'MARA: I still think we have about six months of discovery to go. That is getting the rest of discovery from the state, then getting our discovery, getting our request out to various state agencies and organizations that we want to get information from. Then coming up with our experts and then getting ready for either a pretrial motion, a Stand Your Ground motion and then trial if need be.
MORGAN: In terms of his personal safety, is he entitled to any state protection? If he isn't, what is he doing about protecting himself in terms of security or whatever else he may be having?
O'MARA: Unfortunately, he's not entitled to any state provided security. So the security that is he under now is only coming from the legal defense fund, which is why again, a request for funds has been made uniquely, but had to be made merely because of a number of reasons. One, his own safety, and two, the presentation of the case.
So it is now on his shoulders, but in effect is on the shoulders of all of his supporters.
MORGAN: Mark O'Mara, as always, thank you for joining us. I appreciate it.
Coming up, Only in America. Superstar Serena Williams, how she won her fifth Wimbledon's singles title with a little secret help from a -- well, let's just say a British weapon.
MORGAN: Tonight's Only in America, take a bow Serena Williams. The tennis superstar born and raised just a few miles from this studio in Compton, Los Angeles, triumphed at Wimbledon to take her 5th singles title over the weekend. It was also her 14th grand slam crown, and it comes after Serena spent almost a year on the sidelines recovering from serious injury and dangerous blood clots.
There was a time she wondered if she would ever play tennis again. After the match, an understandably emotional Serena leapt into the players' guest box and thanked her mom and dad, her sisters, her friends. In fact, she thanked just about everyone she could think of that had helped her through her ordeal.
Apart from one person. Because as regular viewers of the show may recall, Serena's amazing comeback was almost certainly spared by a particularly ferocious match in New York back in May. She lost that titanic battle, but clearly learned enough from her opponent to drive her to regain her own brilliance.
Here's a reminder.
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SERENA WILLIAMS, WIMBLEDON CHAMPION: You had me.
MORGAN: Yes! Yes!
WILLIAMS: Oh, come on. That was nice. You did good. You beat me.
MORGAN: You know what --
WILLIAMS: I'm proud of you. It wasn't Wimbledon, but it counts.
MORGAN: Don't get down. You're a good player. You will come again. You will.
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MORGAN: And just as I promised, she did. Come again. If only Andy Murray had given me a call, the men's singles final could have been all so different. That's all for us tonight. AC 360 starts now.