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Larry King Live

Ann Richards Discusses Texas, Politics and Humor

Aired January 23, 2001 - 9:00 p.m. ET


HUGH DOWNS, GUEST HOST: Tonight, an American original who makes her points with down-home humor and a Texas drawl. The former Democratic governor of the Lone Star state, Ann Richards, is our guest here for the hour. She will take your calls. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Hugh Downs. Larry King is on vacation, and I'm sitting in for him this evening. With us, a woman famed for her political zingers and feisty personal style. Joining me here in Washington, D.C., the honorable Ann Richards, former Democratic governor of Texas. Ann...


DOWNS: Very good. I look forward to this hour talking to you. I think it's...

RICHARDS: Isn't this good that the two of us are willing to give Larry a vacation? God knows he deserves it.

DOWNS: We're all heart. It's true. You know, traditionally everything that happens in Texas happens bigger than other places.

RICHARDS: Yes, I think that.

DOWNS: And that's certainly true of this prison break that happened on December 13th with these seven guys out...


DOWNS: ... and the tragic overtone was that they allegedly killed a police officer...


DOWNS: Five of them were collared; four in custody but two are still loose, last I heard. What's your take on that?

RICHARDS: Well, I'll tell you what my take is. But you have to understand that I don't know anything from the inside. I don't know what really happened here.

But it looks from all appearances like that those guys had an awful lot of planning and they were getting an awful lot of help from somewhere, from some source. And I think, you know, the tale will finally be told.

Here's what's really important, I think, to say about prisons and people in prisons. Number one is not to forget that the quality of a prison is only as good as the personnel who run it. We ask people with very little training at the lowest possible salaries and benefits to run those prisons systems. And those guys are going in there, under the worst possible circumstances.

You and I can't imagine anything worse than being a personnel in a prison. I mean, the atmosphere is as unpleasant as you can possibly describe unless it's a minimum security, and it's more a rehab kind of prison.

DOWNS: This was a maximum security prison.

RICHARDS: Absolutely, and so I don't know what happened relative to who helped or who didn't help or if there was any inside collusion, but until you train prison guards better and you give them more salary and you give them more money to do the job, you are going to have instances like this where the temptations are really great.

DOWNS: So the charge that they're overworked and underpaid is true, then?

RICHARDS: Oh, absolutely. No question about it. And the state of Texas, when I was governor, we built an awful lot of prisons. And to be frank with you, I made a deal, and the deal was that I would help pass the legislation and be for building a lot more prisons in Texas if I could get rehab programs for people who were alcoholics and drug abusers because I knew that over 80 percent of the crime committed in Texas was committed by people under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

And unless you treat that alcoholism and you treat that drug addiction, when they go right back out on the street, you got a drunk or you've got an addict that is going to commit a crime again.

DOWNS: Do you think we'll ever drift toward putting more emphasis on treatment, and less on incarceration?

RICHARDS: Well, I don't think so because when -- when I left office, I think that program was virtually cut in half by George Bush, who is now president. And he just felt that if people were going to quit drinking, they could do it like he did, just do it on their own.

We are now seeing statistics, though, that prove that that program was tremendously successful, and California now is beginning to outstrip other states in doing that treatment. And I think that that's one of the reasons you see crime rate going down is because we're trying to treat people more instead of just incarcerate them.

DOWNS: You know, now, of course, there's a big shift in the political scene now, when we had the ceremonial conclusion to a very mixed-up election.

RICHARDS: Wasn't that a mess? DOWNS: That was something else. What -- how do you see now the future under a Bush administration, George W. running things? Is that -- do you feel about the strength of country and everything else, are you optimistic about what may occur? How do you feel about that?

RICHARDS: Well, of course, I'm not going to have a lot good to say about George Bush because he beat me, and so that is a predicate that you're dealing with, someone who is prejudiced to start with. But Bush is really artful and really good, and the people he puts around him are good. And if you watch what he has done now, he's been president -- what? -- a couple of days, and he talks a really good game, and then he does something that's entirely different.

The whole pitch is that we're going to bring harmony, we're going to bring bipartisanship, we're going to bring unity, and the first things he does is he nominates the most controversial possible person he can, John Ashcroft, for attorney general. He stops all international family planning operations and funds.

He takes -- says he's going to take money out of the public schools and put it in private schools. However, whatever you want to call that vouchers or choice or whatever, it's taking money away from the public schools system. He proposes a huge tax cut even before we have a budget. He proposes a huge tax cut that goes to the top 10 percent of the income in the country, 60 percent of it.

So he's picked the three most controversial and divisive, not unifying, things that he possibly can. So you got to watch him. He's good. He is really good.

DOWNS: Now, some people thought, and maybe some still think, that that was a sop to far right which he more or less had to do, but that he'll veer back to what he said in his inaugural address and campaign speeches.

RICHARDS: Well, I hope so. I hope so. But the truth of the matter is that I give Bush more credit for that. I think Bush is a true believer. I think he is a part of the far right. I don't think it's a sop. I think he's doing exactly what he told those people he would do for them, and he's going to continue to do that.

Now, he could have a really successful first month if he wanted to. He could pass some of the most unifying legislation. He could pass prescription drugs for seniors. He said he would do that. He could go out there and say we're going to pass a patients' bill of rights, and deal with the problems of HMOs. He could pass a middle class tax cut and it would pass tomorrow with all bipartisan support. But that's not what he is going to do...

DOWNS: You don't think there's (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

RICHARDS: Oh, no, no, no, no.

DOWNS: We're going to come back with this and other interesting things with Governor Ann Richards in just a moment.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Both parties have been talking about education reform for quite a while. It's time to come together to get it done so that we can truthfully say in America no child will be left behind. Not one single child.



RICHARDS: I appreciate the fact that Mr. Bush sincerely does want to do everything for our kids, as I do. But he's going to have to tell you how he's going to pay the tab. He's going to have to tell you which tax he is going to increase or which tax he is going to institute to be able to pay for all of the things he wants to do.

BUSH: Let me answer that, if you don't mind.

MODERATOR: Go ahead. Quickly, please.

BUSH: First of all, it's preposterous for the governor to say that my programs cost $17 billion. That is just old-style politics.


RICHARDS: Does that sound familiar?


RICHARDS: I heard that last -- this last year.

DOWNS: Governor Richards, what about this idea about -- his ideas on education? To start with, that is kind of a safe issue, isn't it: like apple pie and the flag and things? Everybody wants good education.

RICHARDS: Yes. If you market-test the way you try to sell it, because, see, they don't say vouchers anymore, They say -- now they have switched and they use the word "choice" because they know that vouchers just not does not sell with the public.

DOWNS: That is a curious word for


RICHARDS: So here is here is the deal. The deal is that if you don't think your kid is doing well in school, or you don't like the school that your kid is in, and this administration agrees with you some way, then they are going to give you personally $1,500 to go buy an education for your child.

Now, I'm going to tell you, Hugh, I would trust you to invest that $1,500 wisely. But the truth of the matter is, I'm not sure I trust everybody who gets $1,500 in cash from the government to go buy themselves a child -- their child's education. It is ludicrous to me. It is so transparent. And yet it sounds really good to say: If you don't like your school, by gosh, you come and complain to us. And if they don't meet these certain standards, then we are going to give you cash money. Check, here it is. You go buy yourself a good education wherever you want to go.

DOWNS: Do you think the chances of a very poor ghetto child might not be as good as...

RICHARDS: Well, I might go get my truck fixed.


DOWNS: Well, in other words, that is his priority. Actually, he met with Senator McCain on the other issue of campaign-finance reform...


DOWNS: ... Mr. McCain forced in there. Do you think anything is going to happen on that? Or what -- will he be actively resistant?

RICHARDS: Well, I -- listen, I applaud McCain. You know, McCain is living up to what he said he was going to do. And I think he has. I think he does have a mandate to do it. So I suspect, though, that Bush is going to make a compromise in some fashion. He is going to try to compromise. I don't know whether Trent Lott is going to let him do it or not.

There is a lot of resistance to campaign-finance reform. As you know, it benefits incumbents. Incumbents don't want to see it come in. And, frankly, I'm not sure that the television networks want to see it come in either. When you start limiting things and the amount of money that can be spent in campaigns, then you've got a series problem when it comes to all that television time, which, as you know, is like Christmas for retailers...


RICHARDS: ... with television and campaigns.

DOWNS: On the inauguration, right after the swearing-in, then president -- or before -- then President Clinton and Al Gore appeared on television and appeared to be taking that in stride. What do you think feelings were of Al Gore, particularly, who had run, got the most popular votes and then didn't come out as president? Was he putting on a pretty good mask? Or how do you...

RICHARDS: Yes. I missed the actual swearing-in. I swear to God I didn't mean to, but I did. And I saw it later. And I saw Al Gore's expression. And he looked serious, but he didn't look unhappy. And I kept thinking: You know, his heart must hurt. He won the most votes in this country. And to then not be the president must be an awfully, awfully hard thing to do.

DOWNS: You have been through that in the governorship, haven't you...


DOWNS: ... where you were defeated?

RICHARDS: But you know what? I had been governor. And I -- I really must say to you that I did not mourn my loss. I don't know whether it is because women had changed their lives a whole lot. It's a little different than men. We always expect change. And once it was over, it was over. And I looked forward to what I was going to get to do next. And I have just never been happier than I am now.

DOWNS: You once said that it was better to look ahead and not to look back.

RICHARDS: Oh, yes, because there is nothing you can do.

DOWNS: Well, that is true. You can't change the past.

RICHARDS: You know, I have got a friend that went to her hair dresser, and she said, "Agnes, I think my hair looks terrible." And Agnes said, "Well, change your mind," because Agnes wasn't going to do anything about her hair. So I have sort of used that as a mantra for years. You know, if something is wrong, I have changed my mind.

DOWNS: Changed your mind.

RICHARDS: Because my whole life is right here in this head and how I see things.

DOWNS: There's a bit of sound advice, I think.

We are going to take a break now. And we will be back presently with Ann Richards.


DOWNS: Back with Democratic Party elder and former governor of Texas, Ann Richards.

And let's talk for a minute about Bill Clinton, since he left office -- somehow stayed in the spotlight in spite of the fact that, as he said in that one speech afterwards, he said -- when somebody held up a sign that said "Please don't go," he said, "I haven't gone." He said, "I've left the White House, but I'm still here."

RICHARDS: And he said, "But I'm still here." Yes, he is, too.

And I don't think any of us know what to expect of Clinton. He was such a -- such an incredibly energetic worker and politician. We will never see his like again in my lifetime. Now, there is a lot of people out there that are all worried about Monica and the sex stuff. And they will say, "Thank God." But if you set that aside and you talk about his presidency and him as a man, there has never been another one to equal him: in his intellect, in his dedication to the job. And, man, I'm telling you, those last few months, he really did work until his last day...

DOWNS: He did.

RICHARDS: ... that he was in office.

DOWNS: No, with the pardons and what not.

RICHARDS: And that speech he made in that hangar, you know, it is just -- it just like falling off a log, it is so easy for him.

DOWNS: But, curiously, that was longer than the inauguration speech that

(CROSSTALK) RICHARDS: Yes, and a little more meaningful.


DOWNS: Well, you know, the fact that he struck a deal with the independent counsel...


DOWNS: ... not to be prosecuted after he left office might, in a way, have been a favor to the taxpayer, too, because they had already spent close to $60 million trying to nail him. And...

RICHARDS: Well, you know, there was some talk that -- and I haven't talked to him -- but that Clinton didn't want to do that right there his last day in office, but that the prosecutor insisted that he do that. In truth, I think it was the best for Clinton and it was the best for the country. He may not have wanted that press on his last day. But to have it all finished, all done with, you know, it saved the country some more grief. I didn't -- none of us wanted to see any more of that prosecution.

DOWNS: About the pardons, did he pardon some people that shouldn't have been? Or did he neglect some that maybe shouldn't have been imprisoned?

RICHARDS: I didn't know a lot of the people on that pardon list, and, you know, as he said, I can pardon people that I feel have already served their time. I can't -- I can't erase the fact that they served time, that they did, you know, they did what they did, and they got their just punishment. Listen. I thought that Susan McDougal not only deserved a pardon, I thought she should have gotten every accolade of thanks, that any of us could possibly have given her, man, what a tough woman.

DOWNS: What about Hubbell? The fact that he didn't...

RICHARDS: He didn't pardon Hubbell, and I have no idea what the deal was there. But I guess he must have felt that he couldn't do that.

DOWNS: Now, about Hillary Clinton -- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, this is very interesting; do you think she will run for the presidency at some point?

RICHARDS: I have no idea, I certainly think she can if she wants to. And I'm ready to suit up any time she wants to do it. I certainly don't think she will within the next four years. I think she is very serious about this business of being a good senator for New York, and, so I think she is going to be there and she is going to be working at that, and if she wants to run, you know, 8 years from now, let's go.

DOWNS: Is there a shift in the scene now where we've got 13 women in the U.S. Senate now.

RICHARDS: Isn't it good?

DOWNS: How is that going to change the face of American politics as it continues to increase.

RICHARDS: Well, what it does -- it's sort of infectious, people look up there, and they see those women being successful officeholders and they think if she can do that I can do that, too.

DOWNS: So, it is...

RICHARDS: And so, all it does is just open an opportunity for more women to be full participants in the governmental process. And of course, I applaud that.

DOWNS: We will be back with Ann Richards in just a moment -- stick with us.


DOWNS: We were talking during the break -- with Governor Ann Richards about certain men who are afflicted with a problem that it -- it has afflicted many of our presidents really; if legend is true, Eisenhower Roosevelt, and JFK, and Bill Clinton. And that is the problem with testosterone. Jesse Jackson has now said that he fathered an illegitimate child. So this is not like some new and shocking thing -- it may be a shocking thing, but this happens to men, and what is your take on how that has been treated historically, and how it should be dealt with?

RICHARDS: Well, I think it falls right in the category of all the other behaviors that one chooses to change. If you've got this -- what I call a behavioral problem, and you either need to stop drinking or you need to stop drugging, you know you need to get treatment, and the same is true with sex. If you need to do something about it, you want to do something about it, then now that therapy is available to you. And, that is happening a lot in this country.

I think, that, truth of the matter is, that in these high profile cases, it provokes discussion and talk that is very healthy. Because it gives other men and other women who are involved in the same kind of situation an opportunity to say out loud we can do something about this and we ought to.

DOWNS: Were you surprised that the public appeared to be able to sort that out better than one might have expected it to.

RICHARDS: No, I wasn't. Women have known this forever, you know, that I still love you in the morning, stuff. This is a part of our life. It -- you know, I jokingly said, Bill Clinton is not the last man I have had to forgive. You know, and he certainly is not going to be the last one. And, it is simply a matter of, that is the way the world is and the public knows it and the public accepts it. They don't want you to tell them that because you have done this, this holier than thou preaching stuff, that you can't do your job, because we know better -- we know better.

DOWN: You can do it in spite of that.

RICHARDS: Of course.

DOWNS: And, apparently, can be handled, and can maybe be cured -- one hopes there would be a cure for that sort of thing.

RICHARDS: I hope, if there's not a cure, at least there is tools that you can use, that will give a behavioral change.

DOWNS: That is the same with alcoholism, isn't it? Where you can be a recovering alcoholic, and save your life.

RICHARDS: Exactly right. I'm an alcoholic, I have got 20 years of sobriety, but I have never recovered, I'm always recovering.

DOWNS: Do you ever worry about possibly sliding or are you pretty safe now.

RICHARDS: No, I don't think you are ever safe. I don't think you ever tell yourself you are safe.

I think to myself every day, thank God -- thank God I'm sober -- thank God I didn't have a drink today, and, you have to remind yourself, I think you do, and you must be ever mindful, that you are never recovered from this disease, because there are too many instances of people who thought they could socially drink or -- and the next thing you know, they are back in the hospital.

DOWNS: We will be back in a moment with more with Governor Ann Richards.


DOWNS: We're back now with Governor Ann Richards of Texas. We - you know, we were talking about alcoholism, and when it might be a legitimate time to question candidates about such things. George W. Bush has acknowledged the fact that he had problem with drinking. Do you think -- how much of that kind of thing should be gone into in -- in finding out about a candidate's fitness and what not?

RICHARDS: I think once you put yourself out and ask the public to put their faith and trust in you in a public office, all questions are legitimate.

DOWNS: We've got a question right now from a caller from Des Moines, Iowa. You're on.

CALLER: Hi, Ann. This is Belinda.

RICHARDS: Hey, Belinda.

CALLER: How are you?

RICHARDS: I'm good.

CALLER: Listen, as women transitioning from an under the bridge drunk, and I, of course, was not raised to be and in fact you may recognize this story a little bit, what are issues that you faced. Are they similar or different, being alcoholic to being a woman in leadership and what are the issues that you have to do every day to face those transitions?

Being under the bridge drunk, your public recognition of your alcoholism as well as your personal support for me in Austin, Texas, being a daughter of Fletcher has really made a huge change in my life from going, I guess, from, like I said, low self-esteem to a very visible role in leadership and I always wonder where is that going to take me in the future as alcoholic as well as a woman?

RICHARDS: Well, the first thing that I would tell you is do what you're doing. Do not be afraid to talk about it. Secrets, I think, are so destructive to your life and to your psyche and to your energy, to everything. So talk about who you are with pride.

If you are in recovery, you should be so proud of yourself because you're doing that. The second thing that I would tell you is that understand that this is not a character fault. This doesn't mean that you have bad morals. It simply means that there is chemically something in you that caused you to have this happen to you.

And the third thing is to remember that it doesn't matter what you tell someone to do. You really can't tell people to get sober. You can't tell them how to get sober. You can simply do it by example. If there is anything that I can say to people who are out there who have a problem with alcohol or drugs or behavioral characteristics, there is help for you, and I'm living proof of that. I can't tell you how to do it. I can only tell you that it works.

DOWNS: There's advice. On this subject of questioning candidates and what not, is there any -- is there such a thing as a politics of personal destruction where they go after somebody and really try to destroy them? And is anything off limits to the people seeking answers?

RICHARDS: Well, the truth of the matter is that, of course, there should be things that are off limits, but they're not. I think, for example, things -- exploring things about relatives or your children or things like that really have no place in campaigns, but they're going to be there.

And for anyone to tell themselves when they put themselves out for public office, well, they won't find out about this or surely they wouldn't say anything about that. Believe me, believe me, all of that is going to happen. So, the important thing is to tell your own story. That's exactly what George Bush did. That's certainly what I did. That's what everyone should do, because if you have told your story, there's no surprise about it. You know, it's the surprise that will kill you.

DOWNS: It's interesting, isn't it, that some politicians don't learn that. My best example of what -- of the value of doing that was Grover Cleveland, who made it to White House twice after admitting that he had fathered illegitimate child in the middle of the Victorian era, when he just said, yes, I'm contributing to the support of that child. And It blew over. The public likes not to be lied to.

RICHARDS: The public does not like you to mislead or represent yourself to be something you're not. And the other thing that the public really does like is the self-examination to say, you know, I'm not perfect. I'm just like you. They don't ask their public officials to be perfect. They just ask them to be smart, truthful, honest, and show a modicum of good sense.

DOWNS: Terrific. When we come back, I want to talk about another disorder suffered by many human beings, and it's osteoporosis, and I know you have some good thoughts...

RICHARDS: My favorite subject

DOWNS: .. and you know about it and we'll be right back with Governor Ann Richards.


RICHARDS: And that is Dan Morales (ph) and John...



DOWNS: You were talking about something there, but I didn't catch that.

RICHARDS: I don't know. As my mother would have said, it looks like that was a real good-looking jacket, Ann. And I would say, well, mother what did I say? And she would say, I don't know. I just noticed the jacket.

DOWNS: Noticed the jacket. Speaking of your mother, it was the death of your mother that jolted you into a lifestyle that was more healthful. And so I know you know some things about osteoporosis...


DOWNS: ... because of the family.

RICHARDS: Yes, I'm so happy to get to talk about it, Hugh, because it is a disease in this country that is reaching epidemic proportions. But we are finally, now, able to -- we are talking about it and making people understand that there is something that you can do. My mother began to break off into pieces. She broke her arm. She broke her hip. She -- and it was just a series of traumas going through all kinds of care centers, and, of course, with all the medications and the various doctors and the nurses and rehab people, she began to lose -- she began to lose her -- what do they call it? Her cognitive ability.

So, I went to the doctor and said, you know, I get a check up every year, but I need you to check my bone density because my mother has osteoporosis, and I know looking at her I probably do, too. And sure enough, I did. So, I began a regimen that I talked to women about, particularly women, because we lose so much of our bone density right after menopause.

DOWNS: It affects women a little more than men; doesn't it?

RICHARDS: It afflicts women to a greater degree because of the loss of estrogen. Men are affected, but to a lesser degree. And so both men and women should get bone density tests. It's a simple, easy thing. You just lie down, this little machine goes over you, and then you know whether your bones are getting soft and porous.

You know how you see some women they have what they used to call the widow's hump, and they would walk in a way that, sort of leaning forward. We don't have to do that, Hugh.

DOWNS: It is treatable?

RICHARDS: It is treatable. Weight-bearing exercise is the most important thing I think you can do other than take -- I take a drug called Evista. It's not -- everybody is probably not going to use that drug. There are other drugs they can use. But I urge you to talk to your doctor. For God's sake talk to your doctor about osteoporosis as you get older, and how to build up that bone strength and that bone density.

DOWNS: We you used to think of the skeleton as something like the steel girders in a building, but bones are living things and they can get soft or you can beef them up also.

RICHARDS: You can. They get porous just like rocks, you know, with holes in them, and as they begin to get soft and have those holes, your spine begins to collapse. I'll tell you how I was certain I had osteoporosis was that the collars on my shirt didn't fit the way they used to. And I couldn't figure out what was the matter with my clothes that they didn't somehow -- and it was because my neck was compacting, and literally, I was shrinking. If you watch people who age begin to lose their height, in many, many instances, it is -- the cause is a compaction of bone and the loss of that bone density. And so you just begin to crumble down.

DOWNS: Now you have arrested that, haven't you?

RICHARDS: I have. And I have done it -- I go to the gym, I lift weights. Who would have dreamed I would be Charles Atlas in my 60s? I walk for both my heart and for my bone density. Weight-bearing exercise is very important, and I think medication is important in consultation with your doctor.

DOWNS: Well, this allows -- allows you to be effectively active from here on...

RICHARDS: I -- I just got back from three weeks in Southeast Asia with my two daughters, and we led one heck of a schedule.

DOWNS: That's terrific. We have a -- we have a call from Washington, D.C. for you.

RICHARDS: Oh, good.

DOWNS: Well, you're on.


CALLER: Hello, Governor Richards.


CALLER: Yes, hi. I have a question for you. You were a great governor when I lived in Texas, I want to let you know that.

RICHARDS: Thank you, honey.

CALLER: Now that Governor Bush is gone, would you entertain the possibility for -- of running for office again, either in Texas in 2002 or possibly nationally in 2004?

RICHARDS: You're really nice to say good things to me. I felt privileged to have been the governor of Texas. Indeed I was privileged. But I think this business, like all businesses, is timing, and I had my time, and now it is time for us old gray-hairs to get out of the way and let the younger ones come up.

So I hope there's some other young, smart woman out there, like my daughter Cecille (ph), who if you're listening, Cecille, it's time for you to get into politics, you're so good and so smart. I want to see more women run, and while I loved it, I have no desire whatsoever to get back into it personally. I'll help people I love and like.

DOWNS: We'll be back in a moment with Governor Richards. We'll take a break right now.



RICHARDS: Poor George.


He can't help it.


He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.




DOWNS: Do you remember that?

RICHARDS: God, what a -- what a line.

DOWNS: I saw that when it happened, too. That...


You know, you can be acerbic at times, but your humor seems to temper it a lot.

RICHARDS: I hope so.

DOWNS: Should a politician make use of humor? It's a weapon.

RICHARDS: Oh, yes, absolutely. Absolutely, they should.

But I'll tell you something sort of interesting. There's something, you know, there's something a little scary about funny woman. Well, they're threatening. And there was a survey done one time where they asked women what they were most afraid of from men. And the -- their response was they were most afraid of being hit or beaten or hurt from men. And they asked men what they were most afraid of from women, and they said being laughed at.

DOWNS: Is that right?

RICHARDS: I am kidding you not. I am kidding you not.

DOWNS: Very interesting.

RICHARDS: So you have to be kind of careful with it.

DOWNS: I suppose so.

Now, are you naturally funny or do you have a bunch of writers? Or what -- how...

RICHARDS: My daddy -- my daddy was funny. And he used to tell the raunchiest, nastiest, dirtiest jokes you ever heard, and then he would just throw his arms back and he would just laugh all over you, you know. He would just -- and I picked -- I picked that up from him. And I learned that it was OK to be funny and it was OK to tell really, really funny jokes. And so I still do.

DOWNS: We have call from Austin, Texas.

RICHARDS: Oh, ah...

DOWNS: Austin, you're on.

CALLER: Hi. Ann, we're so pleased to see you. I was just saying, I wonder how George Bush ever beat you. We just never understood that down here after all the good things that you did for Texas. But do you ever regret having not campaigned more for Al Gore?

RICHARDS: Well, no, I don't, because I did about 30 states last year. And I worked where they sent me. I went to mostly campaigns for people who are running for Congress, but I campaigned for Al Gore at the same time.

There was no reason to spend time in Texas campaigning for Gore because Bush was going to win Texas. I mean, that would have been a total waste of my time. So I covered a whole lot of the rest of country. I believed in Al, I loved Al, and I'm glad that Al did win the most votes, because all of us worked very hard to get him elected.

DOWNS: Good question. It might more appropriately been asked of Bill Clinton as far as campaigning for Gore.

RICHARDS: Yes, I don't think they knew what to do with Bill. You know, he -- he is such an overpowering personality that -- that it was very difficult, I think, to put him out there and then put Al out there, who was -- you know, everybody fussed because he wasn't telegenic. He's much more charming in person than he is on the TV. And I don't think that anybody thought that Bill Clinton's presence was going -- was going to help Al that much on the television.

You know, he helped him raise an enormous amount of money, and that helped.

DOWNS: Back on the subject of humor in politics, I was amazed to find that a significant fraction of young people say they get their political knowledge from the late-night comedians, Leno and Letterman.

RICHARDS: Sure, absolutely. Of course, they do. Because it's palatable. It's a way to absorb it.

Now, I'll tell you one thing about humor, though: If it doesn't hit the mark, then the public, they will reject it. But if it's true and if it's dead-on, then they really take it in as fact.

DOWNS: Yes, and that kind of television is somewhat like what political cartooning was, starting with Nast, who...


DOWNS: ... you know, didn't hurt the nation, but he hurt Tammany Hall at the time.

RICHARDS: Absolutely, absolutely.

DOWNS: We're going to take another break. We'll be back very shortly with Governor Ann Richards.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOWNS: There was a real Texas flavor to that inaugural ball. That was the Texas ball.


DOWNS: And I'm going to ask my guest, Ann Richards, if this means Texas fashion is back in style in D.C. or what...

RICHARDS: Oh, sure, no question. You know, it's going to be black tie and boots, and bigger hair. Certainly bigger hair.

I read an article saying that everybody had gotten out their curling irons at the beauty shops that they had put away eight years ago, and now they're going to have to puff it up again.

But now listen, I've been talking this whole time. I'll tell you what I want to do when I grow up, and then I want you to tell me what you're doing and what you want to do when you grow up.

DOWNS: All right. What are you going to do?

RICHARDS: OK. When I grow up, I'm going do a talk show on the radio with Liz Smith, and I have been touting this everywhere I go. I think it's time that they have two old broads that get on the radio and take all these callers and tell them what to do with their life. And we could interview people who've had hip operations, you know. We can interview -- we'll interview all you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) geriatric (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And we're going to play like crazy in Palm Beach.


DOWNS: Can I count on being a guest?

RICHARDS: So, OK. I told you. Now what do you want to do?

DOWNS: Oh, no. I'm now into Internet projects and going into a phase of getting into a number of different Web sites, kind a network of them, And I'm very happy doing that. I'm still broadcasting, just in a different venue.

RICHARDS: But you told me you're hang-gliding or gliding?

DOWNS: Well, I have a glider, and I do that. That's my playboy mentality.

RICHARDS: I'm really impressed.

DOWNS: I want to ask you while we've got time, what is your proudest achievement to date?

RICHARDS: Well, you know, I -- certainly being governor of Texas. And if you ask me what I did while I was governor, there were a lot of things that I did. But I think putting more women and people of color in positions of power and responsibility then all the previous governors combined was probably the most important things I did, the most lasting impact, because now no one can be governor without naming all segments of the population of Texas.

DOWNS: And you contributed to that.

RICHARDS: Yes, I made that happen, and I think it's going to increase as these governors come along.

DOWNS: Do you have a biggest disappointment or regret that you remember?

RICHARDS: You know, I really don't. I've had such a lucky good life, I think about should I change things or wished I changed thing -- probably I could say the fact that I divorced after 30 years of marriage. That was a really tough thing. But I couldn't do anything about that. I couldn't save that marriage, and it probably wasn't worth it at that point, to be saved.

DOWNS: But you've got quite a family now. You've got seven grandchildren.

RICHARDS: I have seven grandchildren, and I have four wonderful children who all married wonderful people. And they love me and I love them. So who could ask for anything more?

DOWNS: You're way ahead of me. I only have two grandchildren.

RICHARDS: Well, listen, once they figure out what causes it, they multiply like rabbits.


DOWNS: Once they figure out -- that's good. What -- from this moment -- I know you're busy with a lot of stuff. You just got back from the Orient. What are you into right at the moment? What will you do when you leave here?

RICHARDS: Well, I'll go back to work tomorrow here in Washington. And I'm very interested in the country of Cyprus, of all things. I think that Cyprus should become a nation that does not face the difficulties it's facing now. And I'm trying to help them. And I'm going to go up to New York and see some friends tomorrow and come back. See my kids over the weekend that live here.

I, by and large, I'm going to do anything I damn well please.


DOWNS: I want to give a couple of quotes that you gave. You had a great quote. You were talking about taking care of yourself and what-not, and you said once: "If you think taking care of yourself is selfish, change your mind. If you don't, you're simply ducking your responsibilities."

RICHARDS: That's right. We keep waiting for somebody else to take care of us, and your kids aren't going to take care of you. And all of you guys who have a wife, you think your wife is going to take care of you. But the truth of the matter is there ain't anybody that can take care of you but you. So just get about it.

DOWNS: Makes sense. You also -- you have been quoted as saying: "I have very strong feelings about how you lead your life. You always look ahead, you never look back."

Now, can I argue with you about that? I have a feeling that reminiscing has some value instead of never looking back.

RICHARDS: Well, I love story-telling. If reminiscing is story- telling, then I think parties are always better in the stories you tell about them than they actually were.

DOWNS: That's probably true, yes. You have a chance to embellish them.

RICHARDS: Sure. So if you want to sit around with friends and talk about the good old times even though they weren't so good, there's nothing wrong with that.

DOWNS: Isn't that a beautiful part of memory, the fact that it drosses out the bad pretty much, and what you remember is the golden moments, by and large?

RICHARDS: I know it, but you know, I listen to -- I feel such empathy for the farmers in this country, because I remember very well what it was like...

DOWNS: I'm running out of time. I want a chance to thank you, Ann Richards...

RICHARDS: Oh, god, thank you.

DOWNS: ... former governor of Texas.

RICHARDS: Listen, Hugh, it was terrific to be with you.

DOWNS: It was great talking to you.

RICHARDS: You look wonderful.

DOWNS: Thank you.

RICHARDS: And whatever that world is, is doing you good.

DOWNS: I just wanted to mention -- and thank you again, Ann, it was a great pleasure. Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, the guest is Diane Sawyer. Tune that in. And thanks to Larry King for letting me sit in with him. I'll see you all later.



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