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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

America in Crisis; Interview with George Lopez

Aired July 26, 2011 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight America in crisis.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is no way to run the greatest country on earth.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The prospect of the United States risking default is horrible to consider. Cataclysmic potentially to our economy and the global economy.

MORGAN: I'll ask Jay Carney and Republican Senator Pat Toomey what happens now.

And George Lopez. He's one of funniest guys in late-night TV. But I've got a bone to pick with him. When I was on his show, this happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Wait a minute. An old man sitting on his ass?

GEORGE LOPEZ, HOST, TBS'S "LOPEZ TONIGHT": I thought I was screaming --

MORGAN: Old man sitting on his ass? One of us is in his 50s. And the other isn't, ladies.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Well, tonight you're on my show, Mr. Lopez. Old man. We'll see what happens, shall we?

Is it a good thing being single at 50? Or is it fraught with pitfalls and potholes?

LOPEZ: Well, I'm 50. So I think I'm fraught with pitfalls and potholes.

MORGAN: Tonight his edgy comedy.

LOPEZ: If you look at my face, I don't -- I look a little Indian. I'm a little Sanjay Gupta but then I'm a little bit Mexican as well. So I'm Native American enough to get a casino but I do black out when I drink occasionally.

MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT. Good evening. If Washington can't get its act together and soon, this country runs a risk of an unprecedented national default. A default would lead to rising interest rates and a declining dollar. It could be priced out of the mortgage market. You might not get a car loan and your 401(k) could also take a hit.

So what is your government doing about it? That's the question tonight with White House press secretary Jay Carney who joins me now.

Jay Carney, thank you very much for joining us. I can imagine that the White House is pretty busy right now. How are you seeing the next few days playing out? It seems to neutral observers that we were watching a high stakes game of brinkmanship last night. And somebody has to blink, doesn't he?

CARNEY: Well, look, Piers, the reason the president spoke to the nation last night is because he felt it was very important that the American people understand what's happening here in Washington. A lot of times the debates we have here just sound like food fights.

And people go about their business and just assume that in the end Washington will do the right thing to make sure that the government continues to function and that we maintain the full faith and credit of the United States.

And that goes to the heart of the matter. As you mentioned, we are moving fast toward a deadline beyond which the United States will no longer have borrowing authority. That would -- if that were to come to pass for the first time in our history interest rates would go up. A lot of bad things would happen.

We believe, we are optimistic that Congress will eventually come to its senses if you will. Come together and create a bipartisan compromise to raise the debt ceiling and also to significantly reduce the deficit.

MORGAN: I mean what is concerning the experts down in Washington is the kind of implacable nature of this debate right now. And the suspicion, a lot of it is geared the fact we have an election year coming up.

The Republicans clearly are taking a bit of a punt, some of them, that if there is a default that could backfire on the president. The polls would suggest that's not necessarily the case. That if there was a default, as to the public may blame the Republicans. But either way, one thing the public are definitely getting very, very angry about is what they see as political posturing.

I mean how confident can you be to the American public that a deal will get done?

CARNEY: Well, Piers, we are confident, the president is confident that, if you will, sanity will prevail. That the -- while there are certain members of Congress who seem to think that defaulting on our obligations for the first time in our history wouldn't be such a serious thing, we couldn't disagree more strongly. And those folks, we believe, are in the minority. That most of the elected member of Congress understand that there is no option here. That we have to take the necessary action to ensure simply that we pay the bills that we've already run up. This was not about -- when we talk about raising the debt ceiling, this is not about giving money to the government to spend on future obligations.

This is simply about paying the bills that Congress has already put on the credit card. And we have never defaulted on our obligations, the United States of America, in our past and we cannot start now. The consequences would be grave for every American. That's why we have to move.

That's why Congress has to put aside sort of the partisan rituals and come together and accept a compromise that nobody likes 100 percent but is good enough to get through Congress, to get support from Democrats and Republicans. Land on the president's desk and be signed into law.

MORGAN: Ii mean this word compromise is the key word here. Everyone is using. The president used it numerous times last night. You yourself have suggested that we were pretty close to compromise between the president and Speaker Boehner. They both talked in a very loving way about each other. They shared the golf course in a very loving way.

What went wrong here? I mean it seemed to everybody that we were very close to a deal. And these two men were getting on very well. And then suddenly, boom, it all seemed to splinter. What happened?

CARNEY: Well, there were, as you said, serious negotiations between the president and the speaker of the House. The Republican speaker of the House. Obviously, they don't agree on a number of issues. Their big differences and principle differences. But each gentleman was convinced, we believe in good faith, that there was a way to reach compromise.

And we came very close. And that compromise involved tough political decisions for Democrats and Republicans. It included a willingness to cut deeply in our domestic discretionary spending on behalf -- on the part of Democrats. A willingness to deal with the need to reform our entitlement programs in the way that saves money.

And a willingness by Republicans to find savings in our Pentagon budget and also to find savings through the tax code to raise revenue. That's what was on the table. That's what the president and the speaker of House were talking about.

We came very close and we never walked away from those negotiations. We never issued any ultimatums and we believe -- we believe, rather, that that grand compromise is still available if there is a -- if there's political will to do it.

The reason why it ended, we believe, is that it's politically painful for everybody. The president realized that he would take a lot of political heat if we got this grand bargain from his own party. And certainly the speaker of the House might have.

The president was willing to do that because he thought it was the right thing to do. We implore the speaker and other Republicans to be willing to do that as well.

Now look. If a grand bargain isn't possible now, we can still achieve something significant. And whatever we achieve in terms of deficit reduction, even if it doesn't include entitlement reform and tax reform up front, it has to include one thing, which is it has to remove the cloud that's hanging over our economy right now and causing all this uncertainty, which is the uncertainty about whether or not we will continue as the United States of America to honor our obligations and pay our bills.

That has to happen and it has to happen before August 2nd.

MORGAN: Jay Carney, I wish you all great good luck with this. I think you owe it to the American people to get this deal done and I hope that you do. Thank you for joining me.

CARNEY: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: Republican Senator Pat Toomey says it's increasingly possible that Congress will not make a deal to raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd. So he's pushing a bill that would force the government to pay the interest on its debt, send out Social Security checks, and pay active duty military.

And Senator Toomey joins me now.

Senator, you clearly believe that we are heading towards a default. Right?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: No, actually there's no situation on which we're going to default on our debt. The Treasury won't admit that publicly but they are making private phone calls to big investors acknowledging that they'll make sure that they don't default on the debt.

I do think there is an increasing possibility that we won't raise the debt limit. That's not the same thing as a default on our debt. And it's not something that I am hoping for. Frankly I have said from the beginning, I hope that we can find a solution that will allow to us to raise the debt limit and avoid the disruption that would occur if we don't raise the debt limit.

But nobody can guarantee that. And that's why I think it's -- only the responsible thing to do is to have a plan B, one in which we would prioritize the most vital payments. Make sure that they are made in full, on time. The service of our debt so that we don't have a catastrophic default. Social Security payments to seniors so they can know that they'll get the payments that they've earned through their own contributions and payment to active duty military because men and women who are risking their lives for us deserve that assurance.

I think that's something that we ought to be able to agree on.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: I mean -- so, Senator, if I may interrupt you. It is very laudable what you're saying but there's a contradiction there. I mean if there is no risk of a default in your eyes --

TOOMEY: No, no --

MORGAN: -- why are you wasting time making all these provisions?

TOOMEY: Because you're putting words in my mouth. I didn't say there was no risk of a default. Well, I should say there is no risk of a default on our debt. There is a risk that we won't be able to pay all of the obligations. Certainly, and the scenario and the bill that I introduced, we would pay our debt service. We'd pay Social Security. We'd pay active duty military.

Now there are departments in this government that wouldn't be fully funded. And until we reach a solution and raise the debt limit, we would have this awkward period which is why I'm not advocating it. But I still think we ought to differentiate between the really vital items and the things that we'll just have to wait on until we've got a solution.

MORGAN: I mean most observers I've talked to think, although it's a pretty catastrophic situation we're in, it is unlikely it will end in default and we're seeing political posturing at its most ferocious here.

Much more likely and more worrying for the long-term economy of America, I would argue, is the possibility of America's credit rating being brought down. Now if that was to happen, and you know we are hearing this could happen even before August 2nd.

TOOMEY: Right.

MORGAN: That would be very serious, wouldn't it?

TOOMEY: I think it would be. And it's very problem attic. Of course the rating agencies have been very clear. They will downgrade our debt if we don't do enough to fix the fundamental structural problems with overspending and massive deficits.

One of my biggest worries is that we'll go ahead and raise the debt limit without the kind of spending cuts and structural reforms that we badly need. And if we do that, then we will have a downgrade of our debt despite having raised the debt limit.

MORGAN: I mean you're one of the people who signed on to Grover Norquist's pledge. You know no tax increases whatsoever.

TOOMEY: Right.

MORGAN: Under any circumstances. Surely when you get to a situation like this with all the doomsday scenario that's could unfurl, you have to consider the unthinkable, don't you? He didn't last night on my show. But I would have thought most right-minded Republicans have to at least be open to the possibility that you may need to raise taxes.

TOOMEY: I think that will do damage to our economy. And in time it will relegate us to a second-tier economic power. The fact is, we have double spending since 2000. We have increased spending by 30 percent since President Obama became president.

Spending which routinely was at or below 20 percent of GDP is now almost 25 percent of GDP. And the rate structure, the tax regime that we have now had us in 2007 with a nearly balanced budget. A deficit of only 1.2 percent of GDP.

So the problem isn't that we're under-taxed. The problem is we're spending way too much. And if we don't come to grips with that, any number of tax increases are not going to solve the problem. That's why I want to tackle the spending problem.

MORGAN: And finally, Senator, the president spoke strongly of compromise last night. Compromise means that people on both sides of this argument have to give a little.

What do you think the Republicans are prepared to give from their current position?

TOOMEY: Well, here's what I'm willing to give. You know I've argued from the beginning that we ought to be willing to raise the debt limit by the full amount the president asked. Even getting him past his election as he's very insistent on if he -- the president will do just one thing.

Agree with us to put our federal budget on a path to a balanced budget. When Bill Clinton was president in the '90s, he accepted the premise that we ought to go for a balanced budget. We argued for a while about how long it should take us to get there. But together with the Republican Congress they got there. It happened because President Clinton was willing to accept that premise.

President Obama rejects that premise. Doesn't think we need or ought to have a balanced budget. And I think that's the fundamental disconnect. If he would agree to this, there'd be a great deal of flexibility and compromise on how we get there and how quickly we get there.

MORGAN: Senator Toomey, thank you very much indeed.

TOOMEY: Thanks for having me.

MORGAN: Coming up next, a man who's as opinionated as he's funny. My no-hold-barred interview with George Lopez.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: George, welcome.

LOPEZ: Piers, I'm very excited to be here.

MORGAN: How do you like being interviewed? As a man who interview so many other people.

LOPEZ: You know, I don't have a problem with it as much as some of the people that I work with. I always try to be honest. I'm always going to try to be honest, Piers. You know, so I do. You know it's been interesting for me. I've exceeded my own expectations, seriously, of what I had planned out when I first started in the business. So, you know, it's all fun. Every day --

MORGAN: Did you find as you get more famous and successful, being very honest and candid is problematic?

LOPEZ: You know it really is, because when I do standup, you're your own boss. You're very free. You are in an enclosed area. You know I try my best to curtail people who are either using their cameras or video cameras because some things are just meant for that particular room. You know it's chased some very good comedians out of clubs.

MORGAN: Your standup routine is brilliant. But obviously it pushes boundaries you couldn't push on television. Do you find a constant conflict between those two roles?

LOPEZ: You know it's interesting because as a child growing up, and a lot of our great sitcoms come from adaptations of British shows. "All in the Family," Carroll O'Connor created a character that you could probably not do today. Everybody is so safe.

But in a sense, social commentary has -- from comedians has been what people look forward to. Dick Gregory, Lenny Bruce, Mort Saul, there has been a -- Chris Rock. There's been a huge list of comedians that have fallen into that vein. And you need to think as you progress further in years that that window shuts.

MORGAN: You've ventured obviously a new world now on this TV late-night war zone, as people call it.

LOPEZ: Right.

MORGAN: You were very gracious in welcoming Conan to take your old timeslot in TBS. And you describe Jay Leno as the biggest two- faced dude and a backstabber.

(LAUGHTER)

LOPEZ: Was that me?

MORGAN: I'm afraid so.

LOPEZ: Yes. You know I will say this. I do not have a personal relationship with Jay Leno. We are not -- we are not friends. Nor have we ever been friendly. I've heard some things said about me by him that I took exception to.

MORGAN: Like what?

LOPEZ: You know, there were things that he said that I was not appropriate to people of my own color.

MORGAN: You do?

LOPEZ: Which I found disingenuous from somebody else. That's a pretty big chip to pull out. And I disagreed with that. And you know we had --

MORGAN: What did he mean by that, do you think?

LOPEZ: I think when you understand the material, you understand it. And when you don't get it, you might think that I'm negative toward my own people when in fact --

MORGAN: I mean what just struck me as strange, I've met Jay Leno five, six times on his show. He's always been unbelievably courteous. He comes back. He has a chat, a cup of coffee. We have a laugh about (INAUDIBLE). And yet he seems to attract from all his competitors --

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: -- extraordinary amount of antipathy.

LOPEZ: Well, you know, there's not a -- there's not a union of superheroes amongst late-night talk shows. I just met David Letterman really for the first time I did the show. I waited 28 years to do it. I've known Conan for a while. I know Jimmy Fallon, I know Jimmy Kimmel, I know Craig Ferguson.

And to a man, I think the one thing that we all agree on is we're all not crazy about Jay Leno.

MORGAN: Why is that?

LOPEZ: I have no idea.

MORGAN: Fascinating.

LOPEZ: I think that in our own personal dealings with him, you know, some people get along and some people don't.

MORGAN: I mean is he much more competitive than people realize, do you think?

LOPEZ: I don't -- you know, I don't know if competition is the right word. I think he is a little bit more interested in everybody else than he should be.

MORGAN: Do you think he sees you as a threat potentially?

LOPEZ: No, no. I know that. Listen, I'm struggling to maintain my ratings --

MORGAN: Doesn't everybody in the end in this game, don't you all aspire to "The Tonight Show"? Isn't that the Holy Grail still?

LOPEZ: Well, if you ask me personally, I know you didn't ask me, who I thought should have been the host of the "Tonight Show", I think when Johnny Carson left, which I was fortunate enough to do that show with him in 1991, I thought the heir apparent would have been David Letterman.

MORGAN: And you still believe that?

LOPEZ: I do. David Letterman is the best late-night talk show host right, hands down. He has been since he first took the desk.

MORGAN: How did you feel when Conan and Jay had their huge split?

LOPEZ: Well, you know, personally in my opinion, I don't think that "The Tonight Show" should have been offered to Jay -- to Conan O'Brien. I think they probably should have kept Jay in there. He was doing well. The ratings were great.

So when they made that move, and Conan was happy at 12:30 and he was doing all right. I think they messed with a formula that was already fine as it was and then it just shook up everything in late- night.

MORGAN: And as a result, neither of them talk to each other at all.

LOPEZ: They don't talk to each other. No.

MORGAN: It's just complete silence.

LOPEZ: Completely silent.

MORGAN: It's a shame, I think that.

LOPEZ: You know, it is. Because this business is -- it's a game. And when you're done with the show, you take your uniform off and then you go home and then there's another game tomorrow.

MORGAN: I want to play you a little clip from when I appeared on your show.

LOPEZ: OK.

MORGAN: Recently. And then come back to you after this, George.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I'm not convinced they're all here for George tonight.

(CHEERS)

LOPEZ: I will see you on your show. I'm taping your show on Friday.

MORGAN: You are.

LOPEZ: To air at another time.

MORGAN: Yes.

(CHEERS)

LOPEZ: I love it.

MORGAN: Thank you.

LOPEZ: Hey, and no -- nothing is off limits.

MORGAN: You're going to get it, Lopez.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: So George, nothing is off limits.

LOPEZ: That's what -- apparently was said. I think I was misquoted.

MORGAN: Well, I deliberately replayed that just a week ago.

LOPEZ: I believe I was misquoted.

MORGAN: Going to the -- going to the first break with you now feeling like there is a sentence you wish you'd never said on air.

See you in a moment, George.

(LAUGHTER)

LOPEZ: You bet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOPEZ: We're going to do something for Matt that my mother never did for me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to breastfeed him?

LOPEZ: We're going to go outside the family and get somebody to help. OK? We're going to get him a tutor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't need a tutor. You know, having a dumb kid is nothing to be ashamed of. I wasn't.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's from the "George Lopez Show." It's run for six seasons on ABC.

I mean your life is completely fascinating. I had no idea about most of your life. And when I met you a few times -- let's find out more about George Lopez. And I read up about you and I was quite shocked actually what you've been through.

You know you talk about troubled comedians. Your life was beyond that. And I read this quote here. "I was never encouraged or congratulated by anybody or included in anything. I didn't come from a home where people asked, did you have a good day or cared what I was doing or what I wanted to be. I fill that void now with the laughs and adulation from doing comedy."

And I have other comedians talking about a lack of love in their early lives.

LOPEZ: Right.

MORGAN: Which led them to seek applause and affirmation from an audience. Never quite as striking me as you seem to have done.

LOPEZ: You know, of all the comedians that I've met, I don't think any of them had the situation that I had. You know I never knew my father. My mother was epileptic and illiterate. And --

MORGAN: And they both left before you were like 10 or 11 years old?

LOPEZ: Yes. Yes. And it was difficult for her to be around because mentally she was probably like an 8-year-old. And when you have a child like that it didn't matter to her what I did. And if I would have been raised by her, I'm not sure what would have happened to me.

You know there's a lot of stories about me being neglected and being left that my grandmother ended up taking me. And my grandmother wasn't much better. She was a very hard woman. Hard life. But ultimately wouldn't let anybody mess with me. You know, and even though there was the negativity, she never learned to be positive.

Everything I tried to do for her was met with negativity. And you know I took her one time to see her house toward the end of her life. I was redoing the house for her. And I walked in and she said it looks horrible. And it wasn't done. But to her, it just wasn't -- nothing was ever enough. And I kept trying.

And I remember going home and sitting on the edge of the bathtub thinking that is the only person in my life that could ever make me feel like I'm 10 years old again. No one else.

MORGAN: That's heart-breaking.

LOPEZ: You know, it is heart-breaking. It is -- it hasn't been easy and it's very difficult because you know you have success and you have people that love you. But then you have to make sure that you appreciate it when no one taught to you appreciate it. That's the hardest thing I think I deal with every day.

MORGAN: But neither your parents nor your grandmother ever told you they loved you?

LOPEZ: No, no. You know the only -- the only encouragement I got that I never forgot, and it's amazing how different my life would have been if I had gotten it every day. There was a guy who came to our elementary school. Probably we were probably in third grade. And he was a AAA or AA baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles.

And he said that if you stay in school and you stick to what you want to do, you can become anything. That's the first time I ever heard that from anybody and it came from somebody that I didn't even know at an assembly with all these kids that most of them weren't even paying attention. But I listened.

And you know -- listen, I'm not perfect but I've always tried to do what inherently I was meant to do.

MORGAN: Do you like to be loved by lots of people now? In the way that you are?

LOPEZ: That's an interesting question. I appreciate it but I don't think it's a need like when I might have said that.

MORGAN: It's a different kind of love. Isn't it? Because these people don't really know you.

LOPEZ: They don't -- yes, they don't know you.

MORGAN: And do you feel damaged by your upbringing still?

LOPEZ: You know if I was a can at the store, if I was a can of soup at the store, I'd have a dent in me and I'd be in that basket that they have at the end of the hall, the end of the aisle, that says these are 99 cents. Everything in the can. That's how I would have considered myself.

You know I saw "Sea Biscuit" interestingly enough years ago. The day that I did my first "Why Are You Crying" special. And there's a line in there and it says just because something is -- you know damaged, you don't throw it away. And I never heard that either.

So what I'm trying to say to you, Piers, is I've gotten all my life lessons from movies.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Interestingly, your grandmother did say to the "New York Times" in 2002 that she was proud of you. Did you remember that? And how it made you feel?

LOPEZ: Yes, I remember. I remember the headline. A life so sad that it had to be funny. And that was toward the end of my grandmother's lucidness. And yes, it made me feel good. I -- you know, she was the one that whether good or bad, I loved the most.

MORGAN: At least she was there. Right?

LOPEZ: At least she was there. Yes.

MORGAN: Your parents left you. She stayed so she may not have been perfect by a long way, and clearly wasn't able to express the kind of love and care that you might have wanted, but she didn't abandon you, right?

LOPEZ: She did not. She did not. And when it came time for her funeral, I cremated her and I kept a little bit of her with me. I couldn't let -- somebody asked me why, and I can't be without her.

MORGAN: Really?

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: Where do you keep her?

LOPEZ: I keep her in my dressing room.

MORGAN: Do you really?

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: Wow.

LOPEZ: I look at her every day. And look at a picture of us together.

MORGAN: Really?

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: And when you look at her, what do you think?

LOPEZ: I think that I wasted a -- I think that I wasted a lot of time not seeing her when I should've spent more time with her.

And that goes for all people. I should've spent more time with her when she was alive. Whether she was lucid or not. And it wasn't toward the -- until the end that I really appreciated all of the times that we spent together and missed all the times that we could've spent together.

MORGAN: Is there anything you wished you'd said to her that you never got the chance to?

LOPEZ: I wish that I would've told her that there was nobody that loved her more or anybody that would've protected her more than me. And that, when she wasn't around, that I would think of her every day and never forget her.

MORGAN: Do you ever think about your parents, or are they just something that you blanked out, really?

LOPEZ: You know, I -- on Father's Day this year, my friend -- a friend of mine, we'd just come back into town. My daughter was in Costa Rica. Not with me on Father's Day.

And we were watching golf, because the US Open -- I'm a huge golfer, and the US Open is always held on Sunday -- the Father's Day. And he was fortunate -- he was nice enough to spend an afternoon with me knowing that I was going to be by myself.

And as we're watching Rory McIlroy win and hug his father, I looked over at him and I said, "the one thing that I regret in my life was not having a father," because I think every boy should have a father. Not a father figure, but it'd be nice -- it would've been nice to have had a father.

MORGAN: Run a short break, and come back and talk more about your life.

LOPEZ: OK.

MORGAN: Because it's been a pretty extraordinary journey for you.

LOPEZ: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: George, you finally did meet and fall in love with someone, your ex-wife, Ann. And you were together 17 years. What did marriage bring you, given all that you'd been through?

LOPEZ: Ann -- Ann was great. And Ann came from a family that was very connected. Both her parents were doctors. I always used to say we're opposites, because both her parents were doctors and mine never went to the doctor.

So, she brought a sense of family and of home, you know? And the holidays were important to her, very important, every holiday. And it's great for my daughter to grow up with that.

And I battled that in the beginning, going over the top at Christmas or a tree or spending a week to do the lights and doing the lights together as family. It's all -- it was all very different for me and hard for me to do.

MORGAN: Something you'd never been used to it.

LOPEZ: No, not --

MORGAN: So, eventually you blanked that out and said, "Well, that's not for me," that kind of thing.

LOPEZ: Yes. It -- and she was giving -- very giving of other people and very considerate of her friends and things like that.

And I was fortunate enough to be married to her for 17 years. And it -- as marriages go, it was fun. We used to look at each other and laugh, and we had nothing when we started. So it was a great period.

It's funny, because I look at pictures of us, and it does seem like another life. It seems like another life.

MORGAN: You had this extraordinary time when you needed a kidney.

LOPEZ: Right.

MORGAN: And she gave you one of her kidneys.

Well known, well documented, you filed for divorce. People were a bit surprised, I think, given that you'd seemed such a perfect couple. And you got quite a lot of flack, as the guy often does in that kind of situation.

LOPEZ: I've taken a lot of hits, yes.

MORGAN: Yes, what's the truth? How much of the flack was deserved? How much do you think was unfair?

LOPEZ: The kidney thing created an awareness of kidney disease, but also of a wife giving a gift to her husband, which I've run into a lot of people that have done that.

We have personalities that are very big, and she's funny and she's great. And I would honestly say to you that I deserve a lot of the hits that I got.

MORGAN: But was it unfair in the sense that because of the kidney thing -- lots of -- one in three marriages fails. Because of the kidney thing, it put you both onto this kind of pedestal of marital purity.

LOPEZ: Right.

MORGAN: There could be no greater thing a woman could do for her man. And so, therefore, you had to be the heartless rat, even though it was years later. I sort of got a sense of that.

LOPEZ: Yes, exactly.

MORGAN: You had no way out of this.

LOPEZ: I had no way out. And you know, there's a lot -- there's a lot of complexity to a gift, and a lot of times that -- well, most times, they don't like donors to meet, because they'd like it to be an anonymous thing, because there's an expectation that goes along with giving the gift of life.

MORGAN: Did you ever -- in the heat of the arguments you must have had building to the divorce, did you ever hear the immortal words, "I want my kidney back?"

LOPEZ: Not quote-unquote in those terms, but it did come up, Piers.

You know, it is -- I am a -- as we all are, when you're an entertainer, and I don't want to blame entertainment, and I don't want to blame creativity, but when you grow up a certain way -- unfortunately, I was not equipped with a lot of the tools that a person would need to be a -- a partner.

MORGAN: Are you emotionally fragile, do you think? You pretty complicated, I mean?

LOPEZ: I don't think I'm emotionally fragile. I think I'm emotionally closed off. I'm very -- it's one of the reasons why I think you can be so successful in business, because they ask you, do you ever get nervous? And when the answer is no, the answer should be, "Oh, yes, sometimes I'm scared to death."

But when you're that closed off, when you put up these barriers, it's difficult for people to get through. Now, I smile and I love what I do, but I'm happy to say that it's not what I am.

And have I taken hits? That personality has taken hits, but the real person inside is much different than the public persona. And there, unfortunately, aren't a lot of people that get to see that because I don't trust a lot of people.

And I never have. It's not new. I never have. And I'm not as willing a partner or incorporating myself in people's lives like someone else would. There's times that I go through a weekend and my phone won't ring, because in order to be a friend, you have to be -- it's a two-way street.

MORGAN: Really?

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: Interesting.

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: How do you feel about that?

LOPEZ: It's a problem for me. It is. I have to say that it is a problem, and I do miss -- I do miss times when, because I work so much -- and I think I hide it in work, that you can sit outside somewhere -- I have a nice home at Pebble Beach. And sometimes when I sit out there, you get really a chance to be a normal person without work and without things that go along with work. And I don't do enough of that.

I think if I did enough away from work, it would make me -- give me a little more normalcy. But I do have -- but I do have really good friends.

MORGAN: You're divorce came through very recently.

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: You've just turned 50 --

LOPEZ: Yes. MORGAN: -- as well. So, you're single, footloose and fancy free --

LOPEZ: I don't know if I'm footloose and fancy free.

MORGAN: Is it a good thing, being single at 50? Or is it fraught with pitfalls and pot holes?

LOPEZ: Well, I'm 50, so I think I'm fraught with pitfalls and pot holes.

But I -- I'm not -- you know, I'm not a dater. And I don't -- I'm not interested in ever being re-married.

MORGAN: So, what are you going to do?

LOPEZ: I --

MORGAN: If you're not going to date or get re-married, it --

LOPEZ: I'm going to --

MORGAN: -- are you going to be a monk? What's going to happen?

LOPEZ: I'm going to take Tylenol PMs and sleep a lot.

I'm not sure. You know, that's a good question. I'm not -- I think I'm going to take a little period of time to assess the good and the bad in my life and, hopefully, make good decisions.

MORGAN: How's your daughter been through the whole divorce?

LOPEZ: It's been a little difficult for her. There's not anybody that I love more with all my heart. She inherited the love that I had for my grandmother. And she's a good girl and she's very funny, and I -- my -- I regret that I've put my daughter in a position where -- where you don't want to put your --

MORGAN: Because she was at a tricky age, isn't she? She was 15?

LOPEZ: She was 14, and she's 15 now.

MORGAN: Yes. I mean, that's a tricky age, I think, for a girl to watch her parents -- only -- obviously an only child, as well.

LOPEZ: Yes, an only child. It is tricky for her, but she knows that I love her and that I tell her all the time that she's the most important thing in my life. And it's interesting because so many people think that they know -- they know somebody. And I -- I love that I live from the walls in and not from the walls out.

MORGAN: Do you think you're a good father?

LOPEZ: I don't think I -- I always wanted a father. I don't think that I've been the father to my daughter that I wish -- the father I would've had. I could do better. MORGAN: It's not too late, though.

LOPEZ: It's not too late. No. I will do better, and I'm going to.

MORGAN: Do you think you have it in you, though? You talk about this emotional closure you have.

LOPEZ: Yes.

MORGAN: Do you think you have it in you to be the father you'd like to be?

LOPEZ: For her, yes, because it's my only unconditional love. So, yes, I would say yes.

MORGAN: We're going to have a break and come back and talk politics with you. I want to know your view on America, on Obama, on the debt crisis. Anything else you want to chew over with me, George.

LOPEZ: Yes, let's do it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOPEZ: I'm going to run for -- although, I don't believe I'll pass the background check now, I do intend to run for mayor, at some point, of Los Angeles.

If Arnold Schwarzenegger can be governor --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why can't George Lopez? Absolutely!

LOPEZ: Why can't George Lopez be the mayor of Los Angeles?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like to be?

LOPEZ: We have Obama, we'll have Lobama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: The Lobama. That was George Lopez making a little joke -- we think it was a joke -- on my favorite morning show, "Good Day LA," about running for mayor. People did actually believe you, George.

LOPEZ: They did. I got messages from everybody. But I --

MORGAN: Did it make you think twice? Did you think -- if you just got the Hispanic vote in LA, you'd probably get in.

LOPEZ: I'd like to think that I would get the Hispanic vote. And I would have to tell you that I'm not ruling that out, not now. But in eight years.

MORGAN: Really?

LOPEZ: Absolutely. And I even ran into a candidate this is running for mayor now and told her that I'm going to attempt to run for mayor of Los Angeles.

MORGAN: Why would you seek public office?

LOPEZ: This is a great city, and it's my city. I believe that there are certain things that could be taken care of that you don't need a strong political background in. And just --

MORGAN: Like what? What do you care about most?

LOPEZ: -- bonding the city back. The streets are -- they're terrible. And it's unsafe in some areas. And people ignore those things.

Downtown can be as viable as New York City. And in some areas, it has.

But that architecture downtown is beautiful. And people live here, but they don't have a pride in Los Angeles that they did years ago, when I was growing up.

MORGAN: I want to play a clip, because you were a big supporter of President Obama, and I want to play you what you then said about him here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOPEZ: The Latino vote, now, has become a very powerful tool and politics. And I think we'll both agree that it's not something that we're just going to give to you because you're running for president or we supported you the first time. You're going to have to earn the vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: You were with Carlos Santana there. I mean, pretty provocative stuff to say. It suggested to me that you're a bit disappointed with Obama's performance. Would that be fair?

LOPEZ: Well, I'm disappointed with his performance as far as immigration goes. If you would've asked me if I were president, I'm not sure I would've started with health care when the economy seemed to be the bigger issue at that time.

Am I happy that the country's going broke? No. Do I think Barack Obama has done a good job? Absolutely. I think he's done a better job than he's gotten credit for.

MORGAN: You said on immigration, "Elect Sarah Palin as president of the Us in 2012 and we'll all leave voluntarily."

LOPEZ: I agree. If Sarah Palin becomes president at any point, I will say allegedly, I will move to Canada. MORGAN: Really?

LOPEZ: I will go further north. I've been south. I'll go further north.

MORGAN: You would literally leave the country?

LOPEZ: I would leave the United States of America.

MORGAN: Why would you be so drastic?

LOPEZ: I like my politicians to actually have a political background, to be politically -- to know politics, to actually have inherited something from working in the political world.

MORGAN: Why is someone like Sarah Palin so popular with so many people, do you think? How does she resonate with people?

LOPEZ: Well, she's --

MORGAN: What is she giving them they're not getting from conventional politicians?

LOPEZ: I -- is it that maverickness? Is it that homespun kind of Andy Griffith wink your eye, shift your imaginary gun thing? Maybe. Is it just that we've become a culture of personality? Of do we elect somebody by their smile instead of by their content? It's a little bit of all of that.

MORGAN: Do you find it quite scary?

LOPEZ: I think it's scary to me now politically that -- and addressing the immigration thing, again, with Carlos Santana is that we feel like whether we're here -- there are more people in the United States here legally than illegally, but there is a service provided that no one else wants to do. And that has run the country from the ground up.

I see it in the neighborhood that I live in. They -- all the people that come to work, and you can't have it both ways. So, if there was a way of -- a path towards citizenship. And there's that divide word, those people don't trust authority figures.

It's very broken. And I understand why Barack Obama didn't want to deal with it in his first term. Not guaranteeing the second term, but that vote, that Latino vote is very important to him.

MORGAN: And what is the simple best way of getting somewhere to resolving this?

LOPEZ: You have to make us feel like we're important in the United States. You can't make us feel like we're invisible.

If I see television, Piers, it's as black and white to me as the day it was invented. You cannot ignore that the largest demographic in the United States is Latino. We don't see them in advertising. We don't see them in anchors. We see them in television shows in Spanish.

My show struggles for ratings and struggles for publicity when other shows get publicity and get nominated for Emmys and do all of those things. I understand. It's a condition. But --

MORGAN: One in six Americans are now considered to be Latino.

LOPEZ: Absolutely. And with that comes power. Power comes in economically, and we do have a lot of resources, but we're not together. If we ever really got together, it would be interesting to see.

MORGAN: As that Latino population increases, of course, the power base of that electorate increases.

LOPEZ: Right.

MORGAN: You've said you might flirt with the mayorship of Los Angeles. Have you got bigger political aspirations?

LOPEZ: I would win -- no. No, because then the background check gets more intense.

MORGAN: We're going to have a short break. When we come back, George, I've got an exclusive sneak peak from your latest big screen project.

LOPEZ: OK.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATY PERRY AS SMURFETTE, "THE SMURFS": I kissed a Smurf and I liked it?

JONATHAN WINTERS AS PAPA SMURF, "THE SMURFS": It's an embarrassment of riches.

ALAN CUMMING AS GUTSY SMURF, "THE SMURFS": They're giving you gold, here.

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS AS PATRICK WINSLOW, "THE SMURFS": Thank you.

WINTERS AS PAPA SMURF: Master Winslow, you'll know it's the right message if it comes from the heart. Right Smurfs?

SMURFS: Yes, you said it, absolutely, of course!

LOPEZ AS GROUCHY SMURF, "THE SMURFS": Welcome to my world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: An exclusive look at George Lopez as Grouchy in the new Smurfs movie coming this Friday. Brilliant cast. I mean, Neil Patrick Harris, Sofia Vergara, Katy Perry. But you didn't actually get to see any of them, right? In the filming?

LOPEZ: I did not see any of them. Hank Azaria's brilliant in the movie. I did not. When you do these things, you're just in the room with the director and a producer.

MORGAN: It's not very glamorous, is it?

LOPEZ: It's not -- you know what? It's not glamorous. It's actually the only -- probably the only profession in Hollywood where you don't need to shower before you show up to work.

Yes. But I quite enjoy it. I've been able to -- because of the schedule of -- that I maintain, to do more animated work, more voice- over work, which --

MORGAN: Well, you've done five animated feature films.

LOPEZ: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. It's almost like I'm a reluctant movie star. These things -- you know, "Valentine's Day" that was number one and "Rio" was number one and "Smurfs."

MORGAN: So -- you've had some time to think. If you could relive -- you've had a pretty checkered life. We've discussed that in some detail in this fascinating interview. If you could relive one moment again, what would it be?

LOPEZ: You know, I -- it's interesting, because it's -- I was a huge Freddie Prinze fan, of "Chico and the Man." It actually inspired me. It ignited something in me when I was 12 years old that I'd never felt before, which was a love of a performer that kind of looked like me, that was Latino, had a difficult time, and was a friend in a house where I had no friends.

I wrote a letter to NBC asking for tickets to see "Chico and the Man," and I asked my grandmother if she would take me. And she said that she would. And then, on the day that -- of the event, I didn't go because she wouldn't take me.

And then, he committed suicide, I think, two years after. I'm friends with his widow, Kathy, and his son, but the one thing for me, inherently because there was -- I would have liked to have seen him with my own eyes.

MORGAN: We've discussed a lot of pretty heavy stuff today, George, which is enlightening, because you're just known as this fun guy on TV. And then you find out there's so many more layers to you.

LOPEZ: I'm not perfect, but I am George Lopez. And that's all I ever really wanted to be.

MORGAN: And I don't think I'd like you as much if you were perfect, George.

MORGAN: I quite like the imperfect George Lopez.

LOPEZ: Thank you. MORGAN: Thank you very much.

LOPEZ: I appreciate you, very much. Thank you.

MORGAN: It's been a fascinating interview.

LOPEZ: That was a lot of fun for me.

MORGAN: Well, thank you.

And of course, George's show, "Lopez Tonight," airs weeknights at midnight Eastern on our sister network, TBS.

That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts right now.